Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Business of Stainless Steel

Excerpt from an interview with Fabian Krone CEO of A. Lange & Söhne:
Question: Do you see Lange & Söhne ever producing watches in stainless steel?

Fabian Krone: This is a question which is often asked. We have a very limited capacity, which we are not able to increase very much. We have around 350 employees, of which around 50 % are watchmakers. To find a watchmaker is not easy. So we have a school where we train them for three years and they come into the process. So before we are able to increase the capacity, it takes time, and if we increase by maybe 500, 600 watches, this is nothing. So the question is “Why do stainless steel?” If we do it, we will probably increase the demand and will have a price which is lower than today, and we will not be able to deliver those watches. So there's not a reason today to do stainless steel.

I never thought of that before, how much growth a luxury mechanical watch manufacturer must have before stainless steel watches make good business sense. At another point in the interview Mr. Krone says they have no immediate plans to reach an annual production of 10,000 pieces. Quality over quantity is what keeps the mechanical watch business ticking I suppose.

Read the entire interview on Timezone.com

Monday, August 15, 2005

A few good watch links

Fratello Watches posted a few good watch links recently that I want to pass on:

www.time.gov: Want to check how slow or fast your watch is running and you don't have an atomic clock to check it against? This site maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory will show you official United States time and UTC time accurate down to 0.0000001 seconds.

www.watchwallpapers.com: If you are like me then you are constantly changing the wallpaper on your computer desktop. For all of you watch enthusiasts out there here is a site with a number of impressive watch photographs (primarily Rolex) that you can download for free. Check it out.

Photo from watchwallpapers.com

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Steel, White Gold, or Platinum?

Anyone who knows anything about Pateks will be able to quickly rule out stainless steel - Patek makes very few watches in steel and the 5110 World Time is not one of them. One of the appeals of white gold and platinum in jewelry & watches though, is that it is a more descreet metal - less flashy than yellow or rose gold. The wearer may very well want some people to think the watch is steel all the while knowing it is much much more.

So white gold or platinum? The casual observer will never be able to tell the difference. The more astute observer, if given the watch to handle and examine, could look for the "750" or "pt950" symbol stamped in the back of the case or the clasp (750=18k gold, pt950=platinum). One could also have the case back removed and take a look at the model number (the letter at the end of Patek model numbers indicates the metal: A=steel, J=yellow gold, R=rose gold, G=white gold, and P=platinum). But beginning in the late 1990's Patek made it even easier on some of their models to distinguish platinum from white gold: they began setting a discreet diamond between the lugs at 6 o'clock on their complicated platinum watches.

So white gold or platinum? Just check between the lugs.