Ca'd'oro Blog

Ca'd'oro Blog
2017-08-17

Solar Eclipse Photo Credit: The Exploratorium/NASA

Time and astronomy have long been linked. Since the dawn of man, we have planted and harvested according to the moon. Many an ancient ritual was performed to honor the sun, and our first abilities to measure time came with the advent of sundials and similar structures. Over the centuries, we learned to better measure time — moving from tracking seasons to tracking months, then days, hours, minutes, seconds and fractions of a second. Additionally, today, many watch brands track the moon and its phases, along with a host of other information, in astronomical timepieces that are a true wonder.

Because time and astronomy are inextricably linked, we want to bring your attention to the fact that next Monday, August 21, 2017, those of us living in North America will be treated to the eclipse of the sun — the first one seen here since 1979. Depending on where you live, you may even get to see the total solar eclipse. The eclipse, which happens when the moon on its path comes between the sun and Earth, obliterates the sun from the sky for just a couple of minutes. The path for the total eclipse runs from Oregon to South Carolina, and is about 70 miles wide, but others will get to witness at least the partial eclipse.

Beware, though, of looking directly at the sun during the eclipse. There are only a handful of safe methods for looking directly at it, including solar eclipse glasses that can be purchased online or at certain museums or photo stores. We advise you to check NASA's solar eclipse site about ways to safely watch the eclipse, which, from beginning to end, will span about four hours — with times varying depending on where you live in the United States. For those of you more interested in the watches that bring astronomy to the wrist, stop in any time and see our selection of moon phase and other astronomically inspired watches.

2017-08-15

Just like you would take care of your jewelry or your car, a fine watch also needs to be properly cared for in order to ensure optimal precision and performance. Additionally, cleaning the exterior of your watch will keep it looking great. Here we bring you six tips for proper care.

1. Before you put your watch on, take a soft, dry, non-abrasive cloth (such as those used to clean sunglass or eyeglass lenses) and wipe the crystal and bracelet to get fingerprints or dust off of it. It is best not to use water to clean your watch, but if you need water to remove dirt on a bracelet or caseback, for instance, you can use a barely damp soft cloth.

2. When putting your watch on your wrist, be careful to avoid holding it over an unforgiving surface, such as a wood or granite floor. Dropping it on a hard surface can cause damage, and we have seen the results of this unfortunate mistake many times before.

3.  If you have a broken watch crystal or even hairline fractures in it, get it replaced quickly before dust or moisture seeps inside.

4. Don't just jump into the ocean or wear your watch into the shower thinking it is water resistant. Not all watches can be immersed in water. If your watch is water resistant, it will say so on the caseback (or even the dial). Look before you leap.

5. If your quartz watch battery dies out, get it replaced at a reputable retailer. It is best not to leave a dead battery inside a watch where it could eventually corrode and damage the timepiece.

6. Have your fine mechanical watch serviced in a timely manner and always take your watch to an authorized retailer for the brand, or to a retailer with a properly equipped service department to have the battery replaced or the old gaskets swapped out to ensure continued water resistance.

2017-08-03

Earlier this week, we reviewed some basic watch terminology that refers to the outside of a timepiece — from the case to the bezel, dial, crown and lugs. Today, we take this to the next level, where we identify some of the other features/functions you may find on a watch.

Subsidiary Dial/Subdial. Often, instead of having three hands to tell the hours, minutes and seconds, a watch may have only the hours and seconds shown using hands, and may have a smaller subsidiary dial (subdial) — usually at 6 o'clock — to show the only the seconds. This is generally an added aesthetic feature.

Minute track. Some watches have an outer track on the dial that is used to measure minutes. It looks like a tiny railroad track running along the outer portion of the dial. It is designed to make reading of the minutes even easier.

(The image, above, shows both a subdial and a minute track on the outer edge.)

Push pieces. Especially on a chronograph (a watch that times events), a watch case will feature push pieces. These are added pushers (usually above and below the crown on the side of the case) that activate the added function. In the case of a chronograph, the added push pieces start and start the timing of the event. There are some other functions that can have push pieces, as well. Generally, whenever a watch has a protrusion on the case side other than the crown, it has some added function.

Tachymeter. Often sport watches will have a scale on the bezel that enables the wearer to calculate speed based on travel time, or to measure distance based on speed. The scale is inscribed with numbers and spaces that are proportional so the wearer can convert elapsed time to speed, etc. There are also a host of other types of meters a watch can have, but that is a subject for another post. Stay tuned.

2017-08-01

We often have customers ask us questions, such as "Is it a dial or a face?" or "What do you call the stem on the watch at 3 o'clock?" The truth is, watch terminology can be daunting, and while many connoisseurs and watch lovers have the terms down pat, newbies to the art of loving watches may not. For this reason, today we bring you a simple glossary of terms that define the "look" of a watch.

Photo courtesy of Wostep (Watchmaking School) shows case, dial, hands and crown.

A complete watch consists of a case, hands (sometimes), dial (sometimes), crown, glass or sapphire cover, case back and a movement inside. Sure, there are more parts, but these are the basics.

Case. The outer metal casing (usually in steel, titanium, ceramic or a noble metal) that holds the watch movement inside, along with the dial, etc. This may seem obvious, but some of our customers call it the "head of the watch," while others call it "the actual watch."

Crystal. This is the clear protective covering that enables one to view the time. Most crystals are made of hardened mineral glass or sapphire, but in inexpensive watches, there is also a plexiglass or plastic material for the crystal.

Bezel. On some watches, the outer ring that surrounds the dial is referred to as the bezel. Sometimes the bezel is made of the same material as the case, but often, especially in sports watches, it is created of different materials, such as aluminium or ceramic. Some bezels may indicate dive time or some other measurement — and they are usually able to rotate either unidirectionally or one way, depending on the function of the bezel. In dress watches, the bezel is often adorned with diamonds or gemstones.

Caseback. Every case has a back. That back is usually made of the metal that the case is made of, or it is made of the material the crystal is made of. In luxury watches, transparent sapphire casebooks allow for viewing of the complex mechanical movement inside.

Crown. Often referred to as the stem, the crown (typically, but not always, at 3:00 on the case) is used for winding a mechanical watch and for setting the time and date (if there is one).

Lugs. Lugs are the part of the case watch that protrude from the case and attach it to the bracelet or strap. Often referred to as case-to-bracelet attachments, lugs are sometimes integrated into the case.

Strap/Bracelet. The word strap is generally used to refer to fabric, leather, rubber, canvas, silk or other material. The word bracelet is usually used to refer to a "strap" made of metal. So, the steel, gold, titanium, etc., that wraps around the wrist is a bracelet. Most bracelets are made of multiple rows of links, or are woven mesh designs referred to as Milanese.

Dial. Often called a face (and not incorrectly), the dial of the watch is where the numerals, markers hands and sometimes other information is placed. Not all watches have a dial. Skeletonized watches, for instance usually skip the dial and display the hands in an unobtrusive way so that one can see right through the watch and into the movement.

Hands. The hands point to the hours, minutes or seconds. Not all watches use hands to indicate the time. In the luxury watch world, some watches display time linearly, through apertures or via satellites.

These are the basics of every watch. There are a host of other terms we can explain, but we will hold that post for later in the week. In the meantime, stop in any time to talk watches with us.

2017-07-26

With summer here and everyone focused on sports watches and timepieces that can keep up with their rugged, active lifestyles, it's a good time to take a closeup look at what it means when a watch is a certified chronometer.

Chronometer roots date back to the 18th century when ships at sea were running aground because they had no way to determine longitude. A race was on amongst the seafaring countries to develop an onboard instrument that could keep accurate time and calculate longitude. When the first such pieces were made for ships they were referred to as chronometers and were considered the most rugged, durable timepieces to date.

Today, many watch brands insist that their high-precision watches house a movement that can keep up with the active pace of today's individuals. This means putting them through stringent testing in different positions and in all sorts of conditions (water, weather, humidity, pressure, etc.).

Generally, a chronometer is rated under laboratory conditions in a specified testing institute and is then certified as having passed those tests within certain ranges of accuracy and precision. There are several chronometer testing institutes around the world (Germany has the Glashutte Observatory in Saxony; France has the Observatory at Besancon), and some brands test their watches in-house and certify them accordingly.

The well known testing institute for Swiss watchmaking is the Controle Officiale Suisse des Chronometres – or C.O.S.C. There are three different COSC laboratory testing facilities in Switzerland: Biel/Bienne, Geneva, LeLocle, but they all use the same guidelines and criteria.

Each watch tested must comply with ISO 3159 standards after being tested for five to 15 days in five positions at several different temperatures. Measurements are made daily via cameras and advanced equipment based on comparisons with two independent atomic clocks. After testing, watches must meet an average daily rate criteria of -4/+6 seconds; a mean variation in rate of 2 seconds; a thermal variation of + or – 0.6; and more.

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Certified COSC chronometers have a serial number engraved on the movement and are sold with a certificate. Because of the rigorous testing and high standards, just about 3 percent of all Swiss watches produced are COSC-certified chronometers.

Stop in any time to see the chronometer watches we carry.

2017-07-21

Heading to New England any time soon? Love clocks, or just looking for something a little off the beaten path to do that is quite different? We suggest you visit the self-described "Old Cranks" at the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Conn. The museum offers an Old Cranks tour with one of four volunteers who visit the museum on a regular basis to wind approximately 60 to 70 of the historic clocks on display.

As the "Old Cranks" work their way through the museum’s eight galleries, visitors can watch the volunteers wind different kinds of timepieces, and hear the fascinating stories about the history of the clocks and of the watch industry in America. The Old Cranks even discuss what makes a clock tick. The Old Cranks are the people responsible for turning the clocks forward or backward during Daylight Saving Time — beginning and end. It is a wonderful tour of sound, sight and education.

The American Clock & Watch Museum offers Old Cranks tours on the first and third Fridays of each month from 10 – 11 a.m. The tours are included with the price of museum admission.

Images courtesy of American Clock & Watch Museum, Bristol, CT 06010; www.clockandwatchmuseum.org.

2017-07-13

We say it time and again, a good watch holds its value — not just for a few years, but easily for a century or longer. Recent auctions are a prime example. One auction that was held by Boston-based RR Auction witnessed the sale of items owned by notorious gangster Al Capone.

A diamond-studded, unusually shaped pocket watch that had belonged to Prohibition-era mob boss sold for an impressive $84,375. The timepiece was a triangular platinum-cased watch with cushioned corners. It was made by Illinois Watch Company and the bezel was set with 72 diamonds. The case back reveals the movement within and has the initials AC engraved on it. The watch was sold with its original 12-inch watch chain made in 14-karat white gold.

Interestingly, Capone had incredible style, and was often seen wearing fedoras, tailored suits, the best shoes and even jewelry. The watch was a  natural fit. The watch was accompanied by a letter of provenance from Capone's great grandson. So, hold on to those watches and continue to look for special pieces that will bring enjoyment and value for decades to come.

It is fun to note that at the same auction, a three-headed snake ring owned by Bonnie Parker (of the famed Bonnie and Clyde duo) sold for $25,000, and Capone's hand-written musical manuscript (Humoresque) that Capone penned while in Alcatraz sold for $18,750.

2017-06-28

If you are a watch lover, you may want to consider switching professions. A career in watchmaking can have a hefty payoff. While watchmaking as a profession may sound a bit boring, at first, it actually is quite the contrary. Watchmakers have to be patient and disciplined, yes. But they also have to be creative and curious. To be a master watchmaker, one needs to think outside the box and envision the future of this 500-year-old profession.

The number of professional watchmakers has dwindled over the past decades, especially in America. The upside is that skilled watchmakers are now in high demand.

Most watchmaking schools offer comprehensive courses developed with one of two guiding programs (SAWTA or WOSTEP). Both have strong curriculums that require 3,000 hours of training (two years), and apprenticeships. SAWTA stands for Swiss American Watchmakers Training Alliance, which currently collaborates with the three largest watchmaking schools in the United States, having a combined capacity of 42 students per year. WOSTEP stands for the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program.

Other schools with a traditional curriculum have degrees that can be accomplished anywhere from a year’s time to 24 months. Many of the schools offer scholarships and full-tuition opportunities. In terms of annual salary, depending on where in America one locates, a watchmaker can earn between $45,000 and $100,000 a year, or more.

2017-06-20

Tomorrow marks the first day of summer, and with it comes a host of wonderful outdoor activities — most of which involve water. Before you dive in, make sure the watch on your wrist is ready to take the plunge with you.

Even though a watch may say it is water resistant, it may not be resistant enough — plain and simple. In order for a watch to be classified as water resistant — and to rate the depth to which it can be submerged — it has to undergo rigorous pressure tests. If your watch doesn't say water resistant, it isn't.

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If the watch you are wearing says it is water resistant, it will typically have the depth to which it can be worn. It's important to note that watch brands use a number of methods to mark their watches for water resistance, including feet, meters, Bars and ATM (atmospheres). To simplify these terms, we offer some basic breakdowns:

1 Meter = 3 feet rounded (actual is 3.28 feet)
1 Bar = 33 feet rounded (actual is 33.455 feet)
1 ATM = 1 Bar or 33 feet rounded

No watch is water resistant to just three feet or 1 meter. Most will say 5 bar, 10 bar, 20 bar and up, for instance. You can find the markings denoting the water resistance of the watch either on the dial or on the caseback.

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Generally, a good rule of thumb is if a watch isn't water resistant to at least 50 or 100 feet it shouldn't go in a pool. For instance, if a watch is water resistant to 30 feet, it may not have water-tight gaskets or screw-in crowns, and water could seep inside when the watch is exposed to pressure or direct flow. Our guidelines: We will swim with a watch that has a screw-in crown and is water resistant to at least 200 meters. We will dive with one that is resistant to at least 300 meters. Additionally, never operate the crown or try to set the watch while in the water or while it is wet.

2017-06-13

With Father's Day around the corner, we think it is a good time to take a look at a gift that will track time for him until the year 2100 (at least): a perpetual calendar watch. Essentially, a perpetual calendar watch is a mechanical timepiece that tracks a wealth of calendar information and properly displays it. That information typically includes day of the week, date of the month, leap years and moon phases.

The most important thing to understand about a perpetual calendar watch is that the mechanics inside the watch accurately and automatically track and portray the exact date of the month, whether the month has 28, 30 or 31 days in it. It even accounts for leap year.

Most are built to track time until the year 2100, when they will need to be opened and readjusted by a watchmaker (ideally on March 1) because in the year 2100, we will be skipping our regularly scheduled leap year. Leap years occur every four years, with the exception of century years. There is an exception to the exception, however. If the century year can be divided by 400 (as in 2000), it remains a leap year.

Perpetual calendars are extremely complex and typically hold hundreds of tiny mechanical parts inside. Among those parts are date, day and month wheels, and, in the case of a moon phase indication, a specially made disk. Because of the extensive work that goes into building one, a perpetual calendar watch generally commands higher prices, but these are very popular watches today thanks to the useful functions and classic look. Each watch brand that offers a perpetual calendar has a slightly different design or display. We invite you in to take a look at our perpetual calendars perfect for Father's Day.

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