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EDITORIAL

Should a watch company be allowed to sell a watch with an ETA movement for five figures?

We can talk about the 42 mm Panerai re-edition of the Mare Nostrum, and how it is based on the first chronograph ever produced by Panerai, back in 1943, for the Italian Navy. It’s limited to 1,000 pieces worldwide. Faux lume. Blue strap. Wooden presentation box in the shape of an Italian Navy Destroyer. You know the spiel. But honestly, all we really want to know is what you think about the movement being used in the context of the retail price which is $10,200. The movement in question is a COSC-certified ETA 2801-2 with a Dubois-Dépraz chronograph module, and some Panerai finishing. No special functionality, extended power reserve, 21K gold rotor, or anything like that. Just a very basic hand wound, 4Hz, 17 jewels, 42-hour power reserve ETA movement. A cursory search on eBay brought up a bunch of

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Jason Pitsch

EDITORIAL: The watch industry sales climate and SIHH 2017

Jason Pitsch

While it should come as no surprise that Swiss watch sales have been heading in the wrong direction, as we editorialized on most recently in July, it appears at least in the short-term, that we are seeing “a shallower downturn.” According to Bloomberg, 2016 total Swiss watch exports are on track to reach the lowest levels since 1984, which is around the time that the Swatch Group was formed. A time marked by serious competition from quartz watches that almost destroyed the Swiss watch industry, and which is eerily similar to a new threat: smartwatches. However, contrary to the assertion made in the aforementioned Bloomberg article, a cursory analysis of the November 2016 Swiss export numbers (published on www.FHS.ch) clearly shows that Swiss watch exports have already significantly exceeded the low of 15 million units seen in 1984. Moreover, when

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Jason Pitsch

EDITORIAL: Swiss watch industry exports 2016 first half results

Jason Pitsch

As of June, according to the FHS, all the principal watch markets are in decline. In January through June, the exports of Swiss watches dropped 11.9 percent in terms of units and 10.7 percent in terms of value compared to the same period last year. Precious metal watches performed the worst with a 31.4 percent decline in the first half of 2016. Watches priced between 500 - 3,000 francs (export price) represent the only segment to have avoided a double-digit decline during the same period (which is consistent with the previous 12-months). Source: Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry If you want to see more comprehensive Swiss watch industry half-year statistics, I recommend this well-written Bloomberg article. I will instead highlight just two key segments: precious metal watches and 500 - 3,000 Swiss franc watches. These two areas are the

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Jason Pitsch

Is the Breguet No. 5 Pocket Watch worth its asking price?

Jason Pitsch

You may have already read about the famous Breguet Marie-Antoinette pocket watch No. 160 (which was ordered in 1783 and completed in 1827). Or the Grand Complication pocket watch No. 1160 (essentially an exact replica of the original pocket watch, commissioned by the late Nicolas G. Hayek in 2005 and completed in 2009). However, around the same period (1794), another important Breguet pocket watch was also produced: Breguet No. 5. And so, like the Marie-Antoinette, Breguet recreated this pocket watch as well. Although, instead of a one-off replica, like the Marie-Antoinette, Breguet produced six pieces. And while the original No. 5 is part of Breguet’s museum collection (as is should be), and the first five replicas have already been purchased, there is still one No. 5 Pocket watch available for sale. Interestingly, I first saw the No. 5 replica in

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Jason Pitsch

FTC finally tells Shinola to stop deceiving consumers

Jason Pitsch

Better late than never. As you may recall, we ran an editorial calling out Shinola’s deceptive marketing practices in August of 2013, titled “Will The Real ‘Shinola’ Please Stand Up.” In the editorial, we precisely detailed how virtually all of the components of the watches are produced in Switzerland or China. However, what Shinola has lead everyone to believe is that the watches are built from scratch in the US, despite the fact that everything except the straps are imported. Assembly of the watch movements, casing up, assembly of the watches, and quality control is all done in Detroit. And that is a good thing as it has created US jobs in a city that desperately needs new jobs. The problem is if Shinola markets the watches as “American Made” – it is an outright lie. And they know what

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Jason Pitsch

Vaucher Manufacture Private Label

Jason Pitsch

For the past three years, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier (VMF), which was started in 2003, as the separate movement division of Parmigiani Fleurier, has been offering something called Vaucher Private Label. Michel Parmigiani founded Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps SA in 1990, which received a large investment from the Sandoz Family Foundation in 1995, leading to the acquisition of a number of key watchmaking businesses that ultimately became the movement division of Parmigiani Fleurier, the watch brand. With the help of the Sandoz Family Foundation (a large Swiss-based pharmaceutical company), in 2001 Parmigiani Fleurier was able to acquire Atokalpa (balances, escapements, and balance springs), Les Artisans Boîtiers (cases) and Elwin (screws, gear wheels, and other very small components). Vaucher Manufacture caliber 5401 Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier was then founded in 2003 when Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps SA was divided

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Jason Pitsch

EDITORIAL: Why the term "manufacture" matters

Jason Pitsch

A manufacture is a watch factory that designs develops and manufactures, at least, one complete caliber “in-house.” This has been the definition of the term for as long as I can remember. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. The use of the word “manufacture” or “in-house” initially came into popularity as a marketing term used to differentiate timepieces which have exclusively designed, developed and manufactured calibers, versus those that don’t. On the surface, it is a very simple distinction. However, due to improper use of the term, primarily by watch companies and journalists, the definition has become muddled. With such ambiguous use, the term has evolved to the point where there are essentially different levels of in-house movements: true in-house or primarily built in house. Instead of getting too in-depth into the different levels, I will just say that

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Jason Pitsch

Apple announces watchOS 2, Hermes Watch and iOS 9

Jason Pitsch

In addition to the new Apple TV, the iPad PRO and the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus announcements – yesterday Apple unveiled the Hermes Watch, alongside a new release of the watch operating system watchOS 2. Further, they announced that iOS 9 will be available for download Sept 16. The Hermes Watch adds a nice twist to the Apple Watch saga, with a variety of new high-end leather strap options made from distinctive Hermes leather. And the updated watch operating will surely make the Apple Watch experience a little bit better for current and future Apple Watch owners. But it is the latter announcement, specifically that iOS 9 will be available next week that excited the most yesterday during the Apple keynote. Why? Professionalwatches.com has been selected as one of the “indie” publications who will be featured in Apple’s

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Jason Pitsch

The Smart-Mechanical Watch Hybrid We've All Been Waiting For?

Jason Pitsch

According to the Nico Gerard website, father-son duo Andreas and Adam Pluemer, who have strong ties to Silicon Valley and a deep understanding of manufacturing – wanted to “bridge the divide between style and function.” And so, they created the Pinnacle, which the company describes as, “A timepiece with a luxury chronometer and a smart watch joined by a single bracelet. The chronometer is situated on the outside of the wrist; the smart watch is situated on the inside of the wrist. Nico Gerard bridges the gap between fashion and function.” The mechanical part of the watch is a basic Swiss COSC-certified chronometer movement with hours, minutes, central seconds and date. The entry-level version comes in stainless steel and includes a 38 mm steel Apple Watch. We estimate that the cost for the movement is no more than $300 and

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Disconnect between Switzerland and smartwatches

Today, Swiss watchmaker IWC announced plans to release a wearable device embedded in a watch strap. The idea behind IWC Connect, much like Montblanc’s e-Strap, is that traditional watch owners can stay connected, without replacing their beloved mechanical timepiece with a smartwatch. In theory, it makes some sense. In real life, however, paying $350 or more to add a cheap device to your luxurious mechanical watch is ludicrous. Especially when you consider the price points of an IWC or Montblanc. The people that own this level of mechanical timepieces are wealthy and typically own more than one. If they want a smartwatch, they can buy the Apple Watch (available now), or Horological smartwatch from Frederique Constant (available next month), and rotate with their current collection. Montblanc’s e-Strap which, available next month. This so-called “smart strap” is a reactive attempt to

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