Breitling Emergency II may just make you reconsider quartz watches

Breitling Emergency II

It’s one thing to abstractly write about watches that are about to appear on the market. It’s completely different when you actually get to handle it. Six months ago, we wrote about the Breitling Emergency II watch.  Now, thanks to one Chicagoland jewelry store, we’ve finally had the chance to get our hands on one of these wonderful watches.

Call me crazy, but I’ve always enjoyed the analog, heavy feel of a good automatic watch. I love the sound, I love feeling the weight – particularly of larger Breitling watches like the Navitimer World or Navitimer 01. I even love listening to the slight differences in sound between various movements between Rolex, Breitling, Omega, and other top Swiss watch manufacturers.

However, titanium takes away one of those aspects that I enjoy the most – the weightiness of a good automatic watch. The watch is so “light” that it’s almost like I’m not wearing a watch. Plus, without the sound of an automatic movement, that’s two of my favorite aspects removed from the ownership experience.

But the Breitling Emergency II is just, well, different.

Let’s start at the way it wears. At a gargantuan 51mm – three millimeters larger than a Breitling Super Avenger, this is one timepiece that certainly wears large on the wrist. However, with its titanium construction,  felt considerably lighter than the Navitimer World I was wearing. However, the head of the Emergency II is actually heavier at 140 grams while the Navitimer World is 112.8 grams. The difference lied in the bracelets.

The differences stretched far beyond the physical feel of the two watches. The Emergency had several features beyond the one it’s most famous for – the ability to send out a beacon in an emergency situation.

It had several nifty features like the ability to light up when tilted, saving the battery by keeping the display dark when the wearer’s arm is tilted away. In addition, there is a 1/100th of a second chronograph, countdown timer, world time function, alarm, and full calendar.

If ever there was a high-class version of the Casio G-Shock (which has practically created a watch collector cult on its own) this is it. Plus, one day this watch might actually save your life.

As for the quartz vs. mechanical watch stuff, this is truly the one watch that I could see finding its way into my collection. That’s a hard thing for a mechanical-only curmudgeon like me to admit, but this is one fine watch and if think you might be even slightly interested in it, then I highly suggest giving the Breitling Emergency II a try.

Despite relatively small advertising budget Jaeger-LeCoultre stands as giant in industry

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Should it matter when we don’t get the attention we deserve? When many people start collecting timepieces, they enjoy the attention that a good Rolex Submariner or Breitling Navitimer can bring as those brands can be recognized by even the lamen.

However, there are so many brands out there that carry even more weight that don’t have the same kind of name power outside of the circle of collectors. One such brand is Jaeger-LeCoultre.

JLC stands as one of the most respected brands in the Swiss watch industry. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have the name brand power that Rolex, Omega or Breitling has. It seems that only seasoned vets know the value of a good Reverso, Compressor or Ultra Thin.

But the real question is whether or not that is enough for the particular collector. If it’s enough to have a fantastic watch with fantastic complications, then a Jaeger-LeCoultre is without a doubt one of the best purchases one can make.  If you’re looking to get noticed by people around you, then maybe it’s best to look at other Swiss watch brands.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
Image Courtesy of jaeger-lecoultre.com – Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

But if it’s history, and if it’s prestige amongst your fellow collectors, then Jaeger is most certainly a great brand to check out. Other than the vanity of wearing a Swiss watch (and if that’s what you’re into, that’s perfectly fine with us, because if you’re spending this much money, you have every right to show it off).

However, with brands like JLC, there’s something more there. There’s the idea that you can:

  1. Get a well-made timepiece that can last you for generations.
  2. Get an interesting timepiece with complications that can impress even the snobbiest watch collector
  3. Get a truly classic piece that will earn you instant respect amongst watch people.

It’s the third thing that people like us enjoy the most about Swiss watch collecting as a hobby. Vanity is only temporary as there’s always a bigger, newer toy out there, but there are only a few true classics and Jaeger-LeCoultre has a few of them. The Reverso and Ultra Thin are watches that should be in every collector’s short list with the Rolex Daytona, AP Royal Oak and other timeless classics.

And that kind of prestige is something that no watch company can just go out and buy.

2013 Watch Brand advertising numbers are in, but what do they mean?

Breitling Superocean II Advertisement
Breitling Superocean II Advertisement

Recently, Watch Time Magazine released its yearly figures on the biggest movers and shakers within the watch industry in terms of overall watch brand advertising budget. Over the past decade, the biggest spender has unquestionably been Rolex, but there have been some new kids on the block, including the brand’s little brother Tudor which was re-released back in the United States last year.

How did your favorite watch brand fare and what, in real terms, does it all mean?

Overall, the watch industry spend $492.68 million in 2013, up over 23-percent over 2012. This is a function both of the health of the watch industry and the overall economy in general as watches are luxury items that just aren’t purchased in times of need. It also marked the fourth-straight year of growth of advertising budgets for the US watch industry.

Breitling has been the biggest mover and shaker over the past year. The Swiss brand has moved into the number two position behind Rolex, spending $43.85 million on print advertising – a near 49% jump over its 2012 advertising total. Considering the sheer number of new models that have come out for the brand, this is somewhat unsurprising.

Breitling is also deliberately moving away from off-the-shelf movements similar to Omega in 2012, marking a move upmarket from their current position. This could be the reasoning behind their ballooning advertising budget.

Meanwhile, Omega itself actually dropped by $1 million to just under $23 million. This is also unsurprising as the Swiss watch company was the official timekeeper of the 2012 Olympics.

Another newcomer bookends the Top 25 in Detroit-based Shinola. The American brand launched last year by employing all Americans and spent some of its advertising budget by sponsoring the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in Indycar.

Top 25 List of Advertising Spenders 

(Advertising Budget in Millions) 

1. Rolex (61.48)
2. Breitling (43.85)
3. Cartier (24.58)
4. Omega (22.96)
5. TAG Heuer (22.00)
6. Citizen (20.72)
7. Movado (19.83)
8. Chanel (17.87)
9. Longines (16.02)
10. Seiko (11.15)
11. Breguet (9.58)
12. Tudor (8.24)
13. Patek Philippe (7.66)
14. Hublot (7.59)
15. Audemars Piguet (7.39)
16. Bell & Ross (7.11)
17. Dior (6.05) (tie)
17. Swatch (6.05) (tie)
19. Montblanc (5.64)
20. Ball Watch (5.37)
21. Armitron (5.35)
22. Chopard (5.20)
23. Rado (4.95)
24. Baume & Mercier (4.92)
25. Shinola (4.66)

Breitling Emergency II sets new standard for Emergency line

Breitling Emergency II
Breitling Emergency II

What sets the new Emergency II apart is the frequency it sends out. The older Emergency line sent out its beacon signal at 121.5 MHz which is a locator homing beacon frequency for search and rescue (SAR) services. However, in 2009, this frequency was no longer being monitored by satellites. Post 2009, satellites started monitoring a higher 406 Mhz signal.

Despite this development, the original Breitling Emergency kept right on clicking with the 121.5 MHz and maybe even saved a life or two in the process. Nevertheless, the 121.5 MHz frequency is no longer the end-all, be-all frequency it once was. So, now with the Emergency II, the newest watch can now also transmit on the 406.040 frequency in addition to the original 121.5 MHz frequency.

This higher 406.40 frequency puts it back into communication with the satellites in addition to communication it always had with airplanes at the 121.5 Mhz frequency. What made this operation difficult was the fact that Breitling is expending much more energy transmitting the signal on both of these frequencies.

Breitling Emergency Antenna
Breitling Emergency Antenna

So, how would Breitling manage to juggle power requirements, as well as transmission antennas, in the limited space of a wearable wristwatch? Well, that was the $6 million dollar question.

That’s where the extra size of the Emergency II compared to the original Breitling Emergency comes from. The outgoing model weighed in at 44 mm. The new Emergency II is an enormous 51 mm – making it the largest in the Breitling lineup – that in and of itself is an impressive achievement. After all, Breitling is the brand of the Super Avenger and Navitimer World – two attractive, if extremely bulky timepieces.

There is one drawback. Given the higher 406 frequency, this new Emergency II has “only” 24 hours of continuous transmitting time whereas the new watch had 48 hours. However, the digital satellite transmission should give you a bit more peace of mind than the old analog-only signal.

There is another drawback – price. The new Breitling Emergency II will be at about $17,000. Given the amount of technology in the watch and the “newness” of it, that’s a bit understandable, but that’s about three times the cost of the original Emergency watch.

Price aside, this is one serious tool watch and should be a consideration if you love the outdoors. After all, you never know what you would find yourself in a bad situation.

Chopard showing signs of getting serious about haute horology

Image Courtesy of Watch Time Magazine
Image Courtesy of Watch Time Magazine – Chopard, a brand known more for its Happy Diamond watch line and jewelry than high Swiss watchmaking is going through a renaissance

Chopard has long been known for one thing and one thing only – fine jewelry. When they re-entered into the Swiss watchmaking business in 1985, the brand was far removed from its roots as the Swiss watchmaking brand that Louis-Ulysse Chopard founded in 1860.

It was the Happy Diamond line that made shockwaves in the industry. It’s also a line that the company still makes today. The next big line came in similar form – the Happy Sport collection.

Both had floating diamonds, both had off-the-shelf movements. These watches, while they had the price tag and the style to carry Chopard to high sales, didn’t quite have the watchmaking prowess to attract high-minded collectors like Omega, Rolex and other Swiss watchmaking brands.

Now, after almost 30 years, it appears that things may be changing.

Chopard 8HF Watch
Chopard 8HF Watch

Chopard Technologies

In less than a decade, Chopard’s R&D Unit, Chopard Technologies, has created several patented watchmaking innovations. While may Chopard watches that you see at jewelers still have ETA movements, this 14-person team debuted the Chopard LUC 8HF watch at Baselworld 2012. It has a heart that beat at 8 Hz or 57,600 vph – double that of most mechanical movements. This has led to a bit of an arms race with other Swiss watch manufacturers with high-frequency watch movements. Despite its incredible speed, it still has a 60-hour time reserve.

But any watch manufacturer’s engineers, if they put their minds and resources behind it, can make one or two pieces that are truly special. Are there other signs that Chopard is getting serious? Well, they’re almost doubling their workforce by 2015 – from 38 in 2012 to 60 in 2015 according to Watch Time magazine.

But you can’t be a better watch brand based on one watch and more workers, it has to come from a mass of in-house movements. Just ask Omega when they moved upmarket in 2012. While they have yet to create one from scratch, they have created three  COSC-certified movements in the Superfast collection.

So if you haven’t considered Chopard in the pantheon of serious brands thanks to their roots in fashion jewelry, perhaps it’s time to. We’re personally fans of the Mille Miglia line.

Newest Breitling Navitimer 01 is both a sight to behold, joy on the wrist

Breitling Navitimer 01
Image Courtesy of Breitling – The Breitling Navitimer 01 is one of Breitling’s most sought-after models. Now released in the same size as the Navitimer World with the 01 movement, this newest watch will be a future classic.

There are few things in this world that live up to their hype. This is one item that will exceed the hype. At Baselworld, Breitling announced its intention to release a newer, larger version of the ultra-popular Navitimer 01.

Well, we’ve been lucky enough to handle the piece thanks to one Burdeen’s Jewelry in Chicagoland and we can tell you that it more than lives up to the hype. From afar, you won’t see any visual differences between this and other Navitimer 01’s but if you did, that would be a travesty.

Luckily, this is one bigger watch that stays true to its roots and doesn’t stray from the herd. Like its now-little 42mm brother, the 46mm Navitimer 01 has a display back that shows off the gorgeous 01 movement. This is something that you don’t get in the GMT’ed Navitimer World and its off-the-shelf movement, so it’s a real treat to see the 01 movement in action.

The particular example I wore had a black calfskin strap and it was stunning with the timepiece’s black and white panda’ed dial. This watch was a looker in every respect. We can’t wait to see the bigger 48mm GMT version sometime this fall.

The craftsmanship was what you’d expect from Breitling. The watch wore large on the wrist, but not overpowering like the Super Avenger and 46mm+ offerings from the brand. It’s just a shame that when you’re wearing it that you have to cover that lovely display back. We just wish that Breitling would use that more often on their offerings. As their in-house movements continue to permeate throughout the brand, we expect to see more of them as time goes on.

While we weren’t lucky enough to handle it for an extended period of time, we were lucky enough to see it outside of Baselworld – something not many people get to do just months after the famed show.

 

Only buy from brick and mortar stores when buying pre-owned watches

Buying second-hand watches is dangerous – unless proper steps are taken
Buying Second Hand Watches
Buying second-hand watches is dangerous – unless proper steps are taken

Buying and selling high-end pre-owned watches online can be (and is) an extremely scary game. On the internet, when it comes to your money, truly the only people you can trust is yourself. With Swiss watches, even pre-owned watches can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

However, buying pre-owned Swiss watches can get you your “Holy Grail” timepiece at a price that would bring an AD to his or her knees. The trick is knowing who to trust. There was a recent article published in Forbes magazine written by well-known Swiss timepiece review Ariel Adams that spoke about buying and selling watches online.

This article essentially said that while there are some shady dealers out on the World Wide Web, certain online stores were taking the power away from big auction houses and giving it to the people. We would say that this article glances over the danger that is involved in buying watches online. The article mentioned some of the more reputable online stores like Bob’s Watches, but if it were our money, we would go one further.

We would only trust sources that don’t necessarily have online stores. Instead, we would trust only brick-and-mortar stores that post their pre-owned inventory online. Therefore, you have the double-security measure of being able to prospect the timepiece that you truly desire, like Cars.com or Auto Trader allows you when you buy cars, but you also have the ability to actually set foot in the building to try on the watch that you liked in photographs.

Money-Changing-Hands1

Pick your poison

There is a store in high-end jewelry store in Chicagoland named Burdeen’s Jewelry. Their pre-owned timepiece selection is just as formidable as Bob’s Watches or any other well-known online store, but unlike the others, you actually have to set foot in their store to make the purchase. Sure it makes the journey to your next Rolex, Omega, Patek Phillipe or Breitling that much longer, but it also ensures that you’re getting a quality, genuine timepiece at an affordable price.

By actually seeing it with your own eyes, you can inspect it further, have their watchmaker open it up, inspect serial numbers, etc. When spending thousands of dollars, we say that the internet should only be used as an investigation tool only.

Why? Because the risks of getting burned with a mis-represented fake are just too great to risk thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money.

Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 gives pilot watch fans a new take on a modern hit

Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33
Photo Courtesy of aBlogtoWatch.com – Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33

Use the Force, Luke! OK, we promise that’s the last Luke Skywalker reference that we’re going to do about the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33. Well, we probably won’t be able to help ourselves.

The orginal Speedmaster X-33 was released in 1998 and developed quite a cult following for its mix of classic design cues and infallible high-end quartz accuracy. The watch was made specifically for pilots with a loud alarm for pilots. The watch was so popular that it already spawned a spiritual successor of sorts with the 2012 Omega Spacemaster Z-33.

Now, with this new Speedmaster Skywalker X-33, it regains its classic Speedmaster case along with its quartz movement and accuracy. What sets this new X-33 apart from the previous Z-33 is the lack of a Flightmaster-style case. This case was relatively divisive amongst Omega aficionados and pilot watch collectors in general and could be the root cause for the new X-33’s release.

Regardless of the reason, we’re happy to see the addition of the new X-33 to the Omega lineup. An interesting feature about this timepiece is the fact that you can turn off the LCD screen for a more traditional analog-style interface. In addition, there is a rotating bezel.

In addition to its analog features, the watch really comes alive when you count its digital features. The watch will feature three timezones, three alarms, a chronograph, countdown timer, mission timers, mission elapsed time (MET), and phase elapsed time (PET). All of these features are also backlit for maximum legibility in the dark. You know, just in case you’re in space, like, well, Luke Skywalker.

In our eyes, this newest version of the X-33 is by far the most handsome of the X-33/Z-33/X-33 family tree. By combining some design elements of the Speedmaster line with its case with the bezel influenced by a Seamaster Planet Ocean with the utility of its X-33 predecessors, this will clearly be a hit with pilots and enthusiasts alike.

Breitling unveils larger Navitimer 01 and GMT at Baselworld

If you’ve ever lusted after the classic looks of the Breitling Navitimer 01, but weren’t a fan of the 43mm size, now’s your chance to get the best of both worlds. Breitling is about to unveil a larger 46mm version of its classic Navitimer 01 as well as a GMT version of the watch in a mega size of 48mm.

Navitimer, one of the world’s oldest chronograph, and most popular wristwatches, will take center stage at Breitling’s booth at Baselworld next week. The new watch boasts the looks of the Navitimer 01 with the commanding size of the older Navitimer World. GMT fans will also have their fill with a GMT version of the watch at the show as well.

If you’re in to limited edition pieces, there will also be a limited edition in red gold with a black dial. This particular piece will be limited to just 200 pieces.

This new Navitimer’s movement is a variation of the in-house Caliber 01 called the Caliber 04 with the same 47 jewels with an impressive power reserve of 70 hours. It also runs at the standard 28,800 vph. The timepiece is also COSC-certified as a chronometer

GMT vs. the World

There are several differences between the new 01 GMT and the older Breitling Navitimer World. Despite the differences, some things will never change. Of course, the new watch comes with Navitimer staples like the Watch Bezel Slide Rule.

What sets this current Navitimer GMT watch apart from the previous Navitimer World is its movement as well as the case size. The previous World comes with a 46mm case as well as the off-the-shelf Caliber 24 movement. Even with the COSC certification, the Caliber 24 has a shorter power reserve at 42 hours. This movement is a ETA Valjoux 7754 – one of the most popular chronograph movements in the world.

Meanwhile, the in-house Caliber 01 is used in the Transocean Chronograph, Superocean II and Avenger lines. This relatively new movement has permeated the Breitling line in a valiant attempt to bring everything in-house similar to Omega’s transition away from off-the-shelf movements earlier in the decade.

This newest version of the venerable Breitling Navitimer should be a big hit for the company, no matter the price.

How to clean your fine jewelry

Wearing fine jewelry made with diamonds, gemstones, pearls, and more can be a rewarding experience. However, like everything in life, things can get a bit dirty. To keep your pieces looking beautiful, careful and regular cleaning is suggested.

Careful care and maintenance of fine jewelry keeps your pieces looking pristine and beautiful. In contrast, if you neglect your jewelry or make cleaning mistakes, you can potentially damage the jewelry and weaken its appeal.

Cleaning regimens vary by material and cleaning suggestions that work for one material, do not work for another. Below are tips and tricks for cleaning your jewelry at home.

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Cleaning jewelry featuring diamonds:
While diamonds are exceedingly durable, if neglected and not properly cared for the settings may suffer. Over time, even diamonds tend to lose some of their shine if the wearer allows a coating of dirt to develop on them.

To clean: mix cleaners such as ammonia or mild dish detergent with water. As a general rule of thumb, mixing a quarter cup of ammonia with one cup of lukewarm water is a good ratio. Let the jewelry soak for 20 – 30 minutes. Follow up by gently brushing the piece(s) with a toothbrush to dislodge any dirt from the setting. Finish by rinsing off  the piece(s) and let them air-dry.

Cleaning Clarity-Enhanced diamonds:

Clarity-enhanced diamonds should NOT be treated with ammonia or any jewelry cleaner that contains this solution. Ammonia can damage the enhancements that give the treated diamond their amazing shine.

To clean: mild dish soap is still appropriate for cleaning.

Keeping gemstones gorgeous:

Gemstones originate from a wide variety of raw materials; there is not one tried and true method to treat each of them. However, there are some basic rules of thumb that apple to the majority of jewelry.
– Gemstones should never be exposed to hot water (exceptions are items featuring diamonds, jade, and cubic zirconia.)
– Mild dish soap is generally safe in cooler water (exception here includes fine jewelry containing pearls.)
– Stones that could benefit from steaming include: alexandrite, aquamarine, rhodonite, ruby, and sapphire.
– Lint-free cleaning towels and cloths made from microfiber are safe on virtually any gemstone.

Keeping pearls looking perfect:

When cleaning jewelry decked in pearls, cleaning considerations involve the setting as much as the pearl itself.

Pearls are formed naturally when mollusks secret nacre. This substance creates the lustrous pearl shine and finish. Since it is organically made, it has microscopic fissures that trap dirt, oil, and cleaning products. If chemicals remain in contact with nacre too long, they can damage the substance.

To clean: Use a chamois cloth for safe cleaning of cultured pearls. For heavily soiled pearl jewelry, dampen the cloth with lukewarm water containing just a bit of mild soap. Soaking pearls in water is NOT a good idea, as it can damage the nacre coating.

Polishing gold for glitz and glam:

Cleaning procedures are identical for all types no matter the color of gold. Commercial gold polishes quickly and safely clean the surface when applied with a soft chamois cloth.  If you don’t know which brand to use, ask your jeweler what their recommendation is.
If the gold begins to tarnish, mix mild dish soap and lukewarm water with just a few drops of ammonia. Soak the jewelry in the mix and follow up by gentle rubbing with a lint-free cloth.
If the gold is soiled with grease, a quick dip into a glass of rubbing alcohol will do the trick.

Caring for platinum pieces:

Platinum is one of the easiest metals to care for. It is durable and almost impervious to tarnish or discoloration brought on by chemicals.

To clean: lukewarm water and mild dish soap or a gentle rubbing with a chamois cloth.

Over-scrubbing can result in scratches that can be fixed by a call to the jeweler. The jeweler will then re-polish the item. It is sufficient to have the pieces cleaned professionally once or twice a year.
*Remember, if the jewelry features a combination of platinum and another precious metal, use the cleaning regiment for the weaker metal.