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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Reading a thread comparing finishing and quality on a thread I was struck by a comment that brought the quality bracelet of a certain brand against the other. Intrigued I looked at the website of the other brand only to be met with designs that aren't to my taste. But looking at the site closer I couldn't help but notice that this company wasn't really an innovator in timekeeping but rather what I would consider a company selling wrist jewellery.

And it's probably no surprise that I am comparing the others to Seiko. There's no doubt I see the aesthetics in other watch brands but that's the jewellery side; then I think would this satisfy me like the smooth seconds hand of the Spring Drive or will it have the allure of a hi-beat movement? Is there anything that differentiates the timekeeping side of this vs watches I already have and enjoy. I come away disappointed that I would in fact be purchasing wrist jewellery rather than something special that goes deeper than what is visible.

Leaving that behind as that is something peculiar to my taste, is it reasonable to divide the watch brands as those who these days are making timekeeping devices and continue the pursuit of innovation in this field and those who are simply making wrist jewellery?

Are they all wrist jewellery? Which companies clearly fall into one class and which in the other (timekeeping vs jewellery) and which are somewhere in between?

I ask with a view to perhaps discovering some brand that might fulfil the need I have to buy not just jewellery but a watch that has true engineering and specialness (for the nerd in me) inside.
 

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There is such an overlap that it's difficult to place some brands into one category or another. Companies like Chopard, Cartier, Harry Winston, and Bucherer are well-known as manufacturers or retailers of fine jewelry, but all have contributed in some way to haute horlogerie. On the other hand, JLC has complete jewelry-setting and enameling divisions that rival the best jewelry houses.

I'm curious... which brands were you thinking could be more conveniently placed in the jewelry-only category?
 

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In my opinion a watch is jewelry, but with a purpose. How a watch balances purpose (function) and form is what makes this hobby interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
There is such an overlap that it's difficult to place some brands into one category or another. Companies like Chopard, Cartier, Harry Winston, and Bucherer are well-known as manufacturers or retailers of fine jewelry, but all have contributed in some way to haute horlogerie. On the other hand, JLC has complete jewelry-setting and enameling divisions that rival the best jewelry houses.

I'm curious... which brands were you thinking could be more conveniently placed in the jewelry-only category?
I admit that I don't know the landscape well enough to offer anything definitive but MontBlanc comes to mind as an example of what I mean.

This is in my eyes an example of a producer of luxury goods who has thought perhaps - let's get into the luxury watch market - begin by producing watches the epitome of what I would consider wrist jewellery and if they hadn't gained traction quietly drop the idea and go onto their next project. As it turns out they now produce an "in house" movement by which they mean a movement they have through purchase of a traditional watchmaking company.

These companies are simply churning the same territory over and over, producing dials with copycat features using the same 19th century fonts and so on. Looking at constantly bringing products that fantasize about a golden era of watchmaking. Whether they exist in the world or not would not really make one bit of difference in the bigger picture.

It is difficult to categorise though. I guess I see some of the companies who have perhaps at some point contributed to "haute horologerie" using that as a perpetual ticket to remaining relevant in the timekeeping pursuit. I think perhaps some of these companies have long ago drifted into being producers of wrist jewellery.

Again it's hard to say for sure in a mature industry like watchmaking where breakthrough innovations are few and far between and hard won.

What I would like to discover perhaps is a brand I am ignorant of that could dethrone the Spring Drive or Seiko hi-beat movement from my focus. Right now for me the only thing that's coming close is Zenith and their newer El-Primero non-chrono movement. Maybe there are others?
 

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Is there something special about a high-beat movement?
I admit that I don't know the landscape well enough to offer anything definitive but MontBlanc comes to mind as an example of what I mean.

This is in my eyes an example of a producer of luxury goods who has thought perhaps - let's get into the luxury watch market - begin by producing watches the epitome of what I would consider wrist jewellery and if they hadn't gained traction quietly drop the idea and go onto their next project. As it turns out they now produce an "in house" movement by which they mean a movement they have through purchase of a traditional watchmaking company.

These companies are simply churning the same territory over and over, producing dials with copycat features using the same 19th century fonts and so on. Looking at constantly bringing products that fantasize about a golden era of watchmaking. Whether they exist in the world or not would not really make one bit of difference in the bigger picture.

It is difficult to categorise though. I guess I see some of the companies who have perhaps at some point contributed to "haute horologerie" using that as a perpetual ticket to remaining relevant in the timekeeping pursuit. I think perhaps some of these companies have long ago drifted into being producers of wrist jewellery.

Again it's hard to say for sure in a mature industry like watchmaking where breakthrough innovations are few and far between and hard won.

What I would like to discover perhaps is a brand I am ignorant of that could dethrone the Spring Drive or Seiko hi-beat movement from my focus. Right now for me the only thing that's coming close is Zenith and their newer El-Primero non-chrono movement. Maybe there are others?
 

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Again it's hard to say for sure in a mature industry like watchmaking where breakthrough innovations are few and far between and hard won.

What I would like to discover perhaps is a brand I am ignorant of that could dethrone the Spring Drive or Seiko hi-beat movement from my focus. Right now for me the only thing that's coming close is Zenith and their newer El-Primero non-chrono movement. Maybe there are others?
Have you spent much time examining Cartier's haute horology offerings? They're doing some seriously impressive stuff, if you ask me.
 
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Maybe there is. Is there something special about your one liner question?
I think what watchbreath is saying is that you are making Seiko out as a superior "timekeeping" company because of the high beat and spring drive as opposed to the traditional watch jewelry companies who add nothing to horology - but why is that so? What's so special about high beat?

You note it's a mature field. Hence a simple cheapo quartz or the standard eta time only movement keeps far better and accurate time than most watches ever did 50 years ago (along with superior cost advantage as well). There was a large development evolution to get to that point. So so-called developments like spring drive do improve little aspects of watch keeping technology but really I'd argue in the end, it can be viewed as just a marketing tool to some extent to the consumer - like the finer jewelry aspects of other watch companies (higher gold content, or more hard finishing) - as a day-to-day practical effect, it doesn't really add to accuracy of time for all ordinary purposes. Just my .02. Not criticizing spring drive. I think it's neat, but I wouldn't say its really that necessary nowadays.
 

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Watches are jewelry. Functional jewelry. Jewelry that can also be tools. But ultimately, watches are jewelry. The best watchmakers are those who successfully merge the jewelry and functional aspect of watches together into cohesive and spectacular works of beauty.

Take Seiko, for instance. Certainly it is an innovator in the technical aspects of horology, from mechanical chronographs to quartz to the Spring Drive. But anyone who has taken a look at the Grand Seiko Spring Drive or the Seiko SARX015 or the Cocktail Time or the Credor moon phase can also tell you that Seiko is also a leader in the role of watches as jewelry. The company's Grammar of Design, first conceived by Tano Tanaka in the 1960s, emphasizes the idea of watches as something akin to diamonds and other jewelry. Polishing and play with light is emphasized. And as you look at Seiko watches of today, those ideas remain clear today.

Another name to be mentioned: Rolex. The company pioneered the Oyster case and perfected plenty of other innovations. But Rolex pioneered the case design for modern sports watches. Plenty of watches owe their shape to the Rolex Oyster Perpetual and the Submariner. And while I would argue that others do the oyster case better than Rolex (Seiko would be tops on that front), there is no question that without Rolex, the look of modern watches would be far different, and perhaps, less interesting. Jaeger-LeCoutre and Audemars Piguet also should be mentioned.

On the other hand, there is Piaget. The company's jewelry work is superb and can be seen in everything it does. But it is also an innovator in developing ultra-thin watches and movements. Piaget's Altiplano 900P was for a time the thinnest mechanical watch in the world. In fact, Piaget has held records for ultra-think watches, pushing the envelope on that aspect of horology. There's also Harry Winston, a legendary jeweler, whose Opus line of watches has brought to the forefront such leaders in horological innovation as Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei of Urwerk.

Let's also not forget Cartier, which helped usher in the modern wristwatch with the Santos in the first years of the 20th century and is doing amazing work on that front now.

The idea that there is some separation between the technical and jeweler aspects of horology is pure bunk based on any sensible scholarship of watchmaking. Great watchmakers are often great jewelers and in more than a few cases, vice versa.
 

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I admit that I don't know the landscape well enough to offer anything definitive but MontBlanc comes to mind as an example of what I mean.
Personally, I don't understand the criticism that I see of Montblanc for making watches sometimes. To use them to maybe address your larger point...

If you pretend that they didn't exist prior to making watches, and then just began as a watchmaker making the exact same watches that they do now, I feel like they'd be much more favorably looked upon. So how is the fact that they first made pens a negative?

As far as watches, like many brands they have some more pedestrian lines with ETA/Sellita movements and modules that are very nice, and in some cases even good value compared to competitors. They also have higher end, more interesting watches, including as you mentioned the in-house movements in the Riussec chronos and the high end watches with what were Minerva movements. Again, if they did that and had never made pens, don't you think they'd be viewed very positively?

If so, then I ask, who cares if they make/market other luxury goods too, if the watches are nice?

(Also, note that Epson is a part of Seiko and they make a lot of printers and parts. Seiko also has a jewelry division, software development, makes lenses and imaging devices, etc. Does that take away from their watch making?)
 

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As far as watches, like many brands they have some more pedestrian lines with ETA/Sellita movements and modules that are very nice, and in some cases even good value compared to competitors. They also have higher end, more interesting watches, including as you mentioned the in-house movements in the Riussec chronos and the high end watches with what were Minerva movements. Again, if they did that and had never made pens, don't you think they'd be viewed very positively?
One of the things I like about Montblanc is that it, along with Seiko and Citizen, have worked to offer high-quality watches at price points that are still expensive (compared to a dime-store Casio), but relatively affordable if you are in the five percent. You can get a Meisterstruck Heritage for less than $4,000 new (and often, far less in gray market or preowned) and get a finely finished movement as well as amazing case and dial finishing; on the other hand, with Patek, you pay $12,000 for the epitome of dullness (though well-made). For those of us who will never have either the money or (in my case) permission from wives to buy a Nicholas Rieussec chronograph, much less haute horology, Montblanc offers fine watches that don't break the bank anymore than necessary.
 

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...Montblanc is that it, along with Seiko and Citizen, have worked to offer high-quality watches at price points that are still expensive (compared to a dime-store Casio), but relatively affordable if you are in the five percent..
Not only high-quality, but in some cases higher end features at lower price points too (especially if you include sales and grey market). Their perpetual calendar (along with Nivrel) is the cheapest out there, available sub-10K at times. And Jomashop currently has a couple of annual calendar's under $4K!
 
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In my opinion a watch is jewelry, but with a purpose. How a watch balances purpose (function) and form is what makes this hobby interesting.
This is pretty much it. It's all subjective. We've all thought similar thoughts to your opening post, just to varying degrees. And we all have our preferences and prejudices. Just accept yours and others, and move on. Your tastes will probably change over time anyway.
 

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Reading a thread comparing finishing and quality on a thread I was struck by a comment that brought the quality bracelet of a certain brand against the other. Intrigued I looked at the website of the other brand only to be met with designs that aren't to my taste. But looking at the site closer I couldn't help but notice that this company wasn't really an innovator in timekeeping but rather what I would consider a company selling wrist jewellery.

And it's probably no surprise that I am comparing the others to Seiko. There's no doubt I see the aesthetics in other watch brands but that's the jewellery side; then I think would this satisfy me like the smooth seconds hand of the Spring Drive or will it have the allure of a hi-beat movement? Is there anything that differentiates the timekeeping side of this vs watches I already have and enjoy. I come away disappointed that I would in fact be purchasing wrist jewellery rather than something special that goes deeper than what is visible.

Leaving that behind as that is something peculiar to my taste, is it reasonable to divide the watch brands as those who these days are making timekeeping devices and continue the pursuit of innovation in this field and those who are simply making wrist jewellery?

Are they all wrist jewellery? Which companies clearly fall into one class and which in the other (timekeeping vs jewellery) and which are somewhere in between?

I ask with a view to perhaps discovering some brand that might fulfil the need I have to buy not just jewellery but a watch that has true engineering and specialness (for the nerd in me) inside.
All watches are wrist jewelry. Discussions about time keeping advances, novel in house movement design and construction, important history, and general horological significance really are - at least in my opinion - just attempts to make this interest seem somehow more important or serious than what it really is - a bunch of people sitting around talking about shiny things that they like to see on their wrists.

Myself? I've accepted this - and I've honestly found that I enjoy watches a little more as a result. It least to things being taken a little less seriously - and a little more lightly.
 

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You know, if you look into the history of the watch industry, some of those "jewellery companies" you are damning saved the arses of some of those watch companies you are praising, so we can have the watches we enjoy today. Let's not get too high on the corporate horse here lest we find that we are riding it upside down.
 

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In my opinion a watch is jewelry, but with a purpose. How a watch balances purpose (function) and form is what makes this hobby interesting.
Doesn't all jewelry have a purpose.....???
Heaven forbid that all those rings, necklaces, bracelets, pins, etc., are purposeless.
 
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