Ca'd'oro Blog

Ca'd'oro Blog

History buffs and watch lovers alike will be intrigued by a very special pocket watch coming up for sale this week that was purchased in 1841 by Abraham Lincoln as a wedding gift for Mary Todd. While Todd never received the watch, you can — if you go to the Baltimore Art & Antiques Show (August 25-28) where it is being put up for sale for $175,000.

The 18-karat gold and blue enamel pocket watch is studded with diamonds and is a solid example of mid-19th century matchmaking. Currently owned by Gotta Have It! Collectibles Inc., the watch has had several owners over the years and is being sold with documentation showing its provenance, as well as a gift letter, original box and key.


When Lincoln and Mary Todd were to be married, he purchased the watch as a gift for her and had the inside back cover engraved with the words: “To Miss Mary Todd from A.L. 1841.” However, their original engagement was broken and he later gave the watch to a friend, Mary Curtis, in an impromptu gesture.

Curtis took the watch home thinking Lincoln bought it for her and then saw the inscription. The recounting of the events note that Curtis was heartbroken and put the watch in a trunk, where it remained for 30 years. Near death, she gifted it to a friend in 1872. The watch has sold several times since, each time rising in the price paid. It is a grand example of how timepieces with provenance hold and increase their value.


Summer activities, especially water sports, can be hard on the wristwatch — and its crystal. The crystal is the clear cover that goes over the dial and protects it. Depending on what that crystal is made of, it can get scratched or even broken if hit too hard. It is a good idea to know what sort of crystal your watch, or the watch you are thinking of buying, is equipped with.

There are typically three main types of crystals used in watches: sapphire crystal, mineral crystal and hesalite crystal. The one your watch features is often reflected in the retail price of the watch.  Here, we take a look at each material individually.

Sapphire crystals:
Sapphire crystals are the preferred choice in luxury watches because they are extremely strong and scratch resistant. They are also the more expensive of the three crystal choices. While this crystal is called sapphire, it should be noted that it is not made from naturally mined sapphire. Instead, the crystals are created as a synthetic compound — and hold the same properties as its natural counterpart.

The process of producing sapphires synthetically was invented in 1893 by French chemist Auguste Victor Louis Verneuil, and shared with the world in 1902. It's formal name is the Verneuil Process, but is more commonly referred to as flame fusion. Essentially, a long column of synthetic sapphire is manufactured in a special furnace using powdered aluminum oxide particles. When they reach temperatures over 2000 degrees Celsius, they melt and then fuse with one another to re-crystallize in a new column form.

The column  is then sliced (with diamond-tipped cutters) to a specific millimeter of thickness and polished to become a watch crystal. Sapphire crystals, as mentioned, are more able to resist scratching and breakage. Anti-reflective coatings can be added to both sides of the crystal without any hazing.


Mineral Glass Crystals:
Generally a mineral crystal is an ordinary glass crystal that has been heat treated or chemically treated to withstand scratches. However, it is not as scratch-resistant as sapphire and is, therefore, typically used in mid-priced watches where cost is a factor (as mineral glass is less expensive to use than sapphire crystal). Under extreme hot or cold conditions – if the glass is bluntly hit on a certain angle – the glass can crack or shatter. The main benefit to mineral glass crystal lies in its price.

Hesalite Crystals:
Also referred to as plastic crystals, Plexiglas, or acrylic crystals, these are the least expensive option and are most commonly found on lower-priced wristwatches. Plastic will not shatter or crack, but it scratches very easily.


As any true watch lover knows, the finest sport chronograph watches typically have a host of added functions that offer useful information. Most of them come in the form of meters – not to be confused with depth. Here, we bring you a look at some of those added instruments that could make your summer watch purchase even more fun.

Much like a car’s speedometer, a tachymeter measures speed, as averaged over a certain distance. Generally, the tachymeter is indicated on the watch via an outside bezel (or sometimes via an outer ring on the dial) that is divided into equal increments. The wearer uses the chronograph to start/stop the event being measured, and then reads the chronograph seconds hand to determine the average speed.

DAVOSA Vintage Rally Pilot Chronograph 7

Working similarly to the tachymeter, the telemeter feature of a chronograph measures distance. This measurement is usually used to calculate the approximate distance between the user and an event that can be seen and heard (such as a lightning or thunder). It does this by using the speed of sound. Essentially, the wearer starts the chronograph when the event is seen and stops it when its sound is heard. The seconds hand is then pointing to the telemeter scale value that approximates the distance from the wearer and the event.


Perhaps best loved by doctors and medical personnel, the pulsometer does exactly what it sounds like. It measures the heartbeat. It is an easy tool to use. Generally the wearer starts the watch at the sound, or feel, of the pulse. He or she then counts a short number of pulsations or beats (generally 15 or 30) and then stops the chronograph. The number that the seconds hand points to on the pulsometer scale reflects the corresponding number of heart beast per minute. Essentially, using the watch just takes the multiplication out of normal calculations and does it for you.

Stop in any time to see our wide assortment of chronographs with added meter functions. They can be addicting.

Wristwatches cover

With the dog days of August upon us, it's a great time to catch up on a little reading. There are some really good books out there on watches and time. One such book — just being released later this month — is a must-read for watch lovers. Authored by Ryan Schmidt, The Wristwatch Handbook offers a complete look at the anatomy of a mechanical wristwatch.

Chock-full of images, arrows, pointers and more, the book is geared for the novice watch lover who wants a reference and educational book. The Wristwatch Handbook takes a detailed look at mechanical wristwatch complications (functions) and leaves no stone unturned. It also looks at subjects, such as dial making, mounting hands and building watch crystals.

The book starts with an introduction to the core mechanisms, covers the functions and forms in the main body and concludes by zooming out to take a  broader look at the watch industry, the manufacturing process, key brands, conglomerates and independent manufacturers. The book is nicely illustrated, which helps when you are browsing through a nearly 400-page behemoth.


Over the past week or so we have talked a lot about active watches for summer — covering pilots and aviation watches, dive watches and water resistance. Another very important thing to consider during the summer months is how to care for your mechanical or quartz watch.

Clean It: Because watches generally take a bit more of a beating in summer when we indulge in a more active lifestyle, it is important to regularly clean it. If you take a watch worn regularly off your wrist and turn it over, there is most likely some ugly dirt buildup on the case, caseback and lugs. This is not good for a watch because if the seals or gaskets are loose, dirt can get inside and damage the movement. Additionally, it wears down the strap faster.

We suggest a gentle cleaning with a soft cloth (such as a non-abrasive towel or cotton tee-shirt). You may need to put a little elbow grease into it, but do not use water. You can also use the same soft cloth on the watch crystal.

On the inside of the strap, you can use a damp towel with a little soap to clean the strap and then dry it carefully. Even if you have a water-resistant watch, it's best to clean it after swimming, as chlorine and salt can be abrasive. Also, always be sure the crown (stem) is pushed in tightly, and if you have a screw-down crown, once it is pushed in, you need to screw it into the locked position.


Avoid Rigorous Activity: While many watches today are shock resistant, they should not be subjected to rigorous activity unless proven to be able to withstand intense treatment (such as a COSC-certified chronometer). Be careful to avoid holding your watch over a hardwood floor or cement pool patio while putting it on. Sometimes we are in a rush and the watch drops, which can cause damage. We have seen this sort of thing all too often.

Replace Cracked Crystals: If your watch crystal is scratched or has a hairline fracture, get it replaced fast — before dust or moisture seeps inside. This can do even greater harm.

Keep Batteries Running: For quartz watches, if your battery dies, get it fixed. Do not leave a dead battery inside a watch or it can eventually corrode, leak and ruin the timepiece. Always take your watch to an authorized retailer or a retailer with a properly equipped service department to have the battery replaced.


Have it Serviced: This is especially important for mechanical watches, which — much like a fine car — need an oil change and maintenance every so often. Even quartz watches — if worn in the water — should be checked annually just to ensure it remains water resistant and the gaskets are still intact.

Check Water Resistance: Don’t assume your watch is ready to join you for a dive into the ocean or pool just because it says water-resistant. We wrote about water resistance here a few weeks ago, and we suggest you scroll back and see what your watch can or can't do, depending on its depth of water resistance.

Other than that, stop in our store anytime to check out our newest watches, or to talk about watch care.

Lot 28

Vintage watches and clocks always amaze us when they go up for auction. They seem to always hold their value — especially when they have a celebrity provenance. Recently, at Christie's New York auction of comedian Joan Rivers' property, several clocks and watches were sold for more than double the estimated price.

Lot 28, an Austrian silver, gilt and malachite table clock with gemstones, was expected to fetch $2,000. The early 20th century ornate clock measuring 8-1/2 inches tall sold for $3,750.

Lot 31

Selling for $6,875 was Lot 31, another malachite table clock. This one was a late 19th century German Ormolu malachite-veneered table clock with a gilded astronomer sitting atop. The dial is signed John Hartmann, Horloger Du Roi, Berlin. The clock measures 20 inches in height. Experts had estimated that the clock may fetch $3,000.

As to watches, a lady's Chanel Premier watch with quartz movement and a two-row gold-plated link bracelet, circa 1987, was estimated to sell in the range of $1,500 to $2,000. It realized $3,750. Additionally, Lot 95, a lady's quartz Chopard watch with black resin case and dial was supposed to sell for $1,000 and actually sold for $2,125.

Rivers, whose acerbic comedic style earned her legions of fans and a co-hosting gig on E!’s Fashion Police, passed away on Sept. 4, 2014, at the age of 81. During her successful 55-year-career as a comedian, actress, writer and producer, Rivers amassed an impressive collection of jewelry and watches from esteemed designers, such as Fabergé, Harry Winston, Chanel and Tiffany.

Lot 95

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.


Earlier this week, we wrote an article about water resistance. At the close of that story, we noted that if you have a 300-meter water-resistant watch, you can do deep diving with it on your wrist. Here, we bring you a look at what constitutes a true dive watch.

A host of top watch brands offer high-precision professional dive watches that are equipped with all sorts of important features that help to make these watches impervious to the rigors of the deep. Often watch brands seek outside help from experts in the dive world as they build their professional timepieces.

To be a true dive watch, the timepiece should meet certain standards depending on whether one is snorkeling, scuba diving or deep sea diving. For diving, the true minimum should be 300 meters of water resistance. Some people may choose a  200-meter water-resistant watch — but only if staying within 100 meters of the surface.


Other than water resistance, a true dive watch should include the following:

• One-way rotating and ratcheted bezels to measure elapsed dive time;
• SuperLuminova hands and markers for easy underwater readability;
• Anti-glare crystals;
• Rugged materials, such as titanium,steel, carbon fiber, etc.;
• Expansion bracelets for use over wetsuits;
• Depending on the depth one plans to go to, a helium escape valve.

Additionally, today’s dive watches may — depending on the brand — also offer other important features, such as double- or triple-locked winding crowns, additional gaskets, silicon "O" rings, extra-large crowns, alarm functions and double-locked bracelet clasps.

Most dive watches are also COSC-certified chronometers. Chronometers are watches that have undergone rigorous testing by the Controle Official Suisse des Chronometres (COSC) observatory over a period of time. The watches are monitored in various positions and under different conditions of pressure, temperature, depth and gravity.

If you plan to dive, stop in our store and check out our selection of superb diver watches from a host of brands.


It’s summer and that means many of us are engaging in water sports. But, before you jump right in, take a look at these important factors that will help you determine if the watch on your wrist can jump in with you.

To begin with, no watch is waterproof. Watches can be rated "water resistant" to a certain depth that is typically pre-determined in a series of tests. If a watch does not carry the words "water resistant," it most likely is not water resistant. Look for the designation on the dial or caseback.


Generally, watches are marked "water resistant" to a certain depth. Different watch brands use different measuring methods, including Bar, ATM (atmospheres), Meters and Feet. Generally 10 Bar equals 10 ATM, which equals 100 meters or 330 feet.

Several important watch parts influence whether or not a watch is water resistant. These include proper gaskets, screw-down crowns (where once the time has been set and the crown is pushed back in, the crown is screwed into locking position), and screwed casebacks (where, in the manufacture of the watch, the caseback has been threaded to fit the case with no openings).

So, what's the long and the short of it? Here is a quick guide to help you decide just how much water your watch will enjoy.

• 30 meters: It should not be worn in the water; it is most likely just splash resistant.
• 50 meters: Swim with it.
• 100 meters: Snorkel with it.
• 200 meters: Snorkel and maybe dive to 100-meters – no deep dives.
• 300 meters: Congratulations you can deep dive.

Just one other note, though. Showering or hot-tubbing with a water resistant watch is not a good idea, as the warmer temperatures of the water can affect the gasket shape and seal. We also recommend that you have your watch tested for water resistance once a year, typically before the summer season hits.


Summertime is a great time for driving. This means it is also a great time for a good car-inspired watch. Meet the Baume & Mercier Capeland Cobra collection — inspired by the famed Carroll Shelby, creator of the Cobra car. The bold chronograph timepieces feature great auto-inspired details in eye-catching bright yellow, red or blue (indicative of the first Cobra cars in the early 1960s). Rubber straps or leather straps with colorful stitching also make a statement.

Most importantly, however, are the dials of these timepieces. Each features bold racing color accents and each has the actual snake-head Cobra logo forming one of the hands on the dial. These watches are a rich interpretation of a legendary man and a car that made history. We invite you to stop in any time and check out the wonderful Baume & Mercier Capeland Cobra watches.


Every watch lover should indulge in the beauty and watchmaking prowess that Switzerland has to offer. In fact, this cradle of mechanical watchmaking is rich with places to visit to get out of the heat this summer.

It is the country of watch museums – with each one offering a different and unique perspective on time. Watch lovers can travel the country, region by region, and never be at a loss to indulge in the history of timekeeping.


Among the cool picks this year: the Beyer Zurich Clock and Watch Museum, which showcases pieces from all over the world and dating back to clepsydras (water clocks), oil clocks, hour glasses, sundials, long case clocks and scientific/navigational instruments. Located in Zurich it is not to be missed.

Moving off to La Chaux-de-Fonds, a veritable birthplace of watchmaking, one can visit the International Watchmaking Museum for a close-up look at time measurement from the beginning to modern day.


For those more interested in how clocks and watches are made, a visit to the Brodbeck Guilloche Museum offers insight into the use of lathes, rose machines and other tooling to present engine-turned works of art from the 18th to 20th century.

It is in Geneva, though, where a host of museums await the timely traveler. Not only is this city home to the Musée d'art et d'histoire, housing one of the finest horological collections of artistic timepieces in the world, but also Geneva plays home to the Patek Philippe Museum. But sure to reserve at least a few hours to stroll through and view automatons, repeaters, tourbillons and so much more.

Photos: 1) courtesy of Beyer Museum; 2) courtesy of Musee International Horlogerie; 3) courtesy of Beyer Museum; 4) courtesy of Musse d' Art History.

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