Markham Fine Jewelers Blog
2017-01-12

For those who believe that every second counts, this story is for you, because the year 2016 got an extra second added to it. That second, referred to as a "Leap Second" was added right as 2016 turned to 2017 — or at 23:59:59. Instead of the atomic clocks jumping to 00:00:00, they officially stood at 23:59:60.

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This was done to keep time as precise as possible, much like the reason we add a Leap Day once every four years.

Leap seconds are added to compensate for the fact that Earth's rotation is gradually slowing down, and to make sure that our precise clocks remain in sync with how long a day lasts on Earth.

"This extra second, or leap second, makes it possible to align astronomical time, which is irregular and determined by Earth's rotation, with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) which is extremely stable and has been determined by atomic clocks since 1967," noted the Paris Observatory in France in a statement. The Observatory houses the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), which is responsible for synchronizing time.

While Leap Days are predictable, Leap Seconds are sporadic. In fact, over the past 45 years, we have added a Leap Second 27 times. The less predictable nature of the Leap Second makes it virtually impossible to build into a watch or clock.

For those who want more information about the Leap Second, universal time, the evolution of GPS and satellite timing, we suggest you take a look at the extensive report by Jack Forster of Hodinkee. You can read his story at this link.

Credit: Image by NASA.gov.

2017-01-10

While wristwatches did not officially go into serial production until the early 1900s, these watches do have a long and fascinating history. In fact, centuries ago, pocket watches, brooch watches and other pieces were adapted to be worn on the wrist. Some brands still debate who developed the first wristwatch predominantly made for this purpose.

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Historians can confirm that the wristwatch was used on the battlefield in the late 1880s as a safer means for soldiers to read the time and synchronize time without having to pull out their pocket watches. Girard-Perregaux was the first brand to produce large quantities of wristwatches for the German military in the 1880s.

Even earlier, in 1868, Patek Philippe is credited with making an elaborate gold bracelet watch for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. It was designed specifically for use on the wrist and is documented in the Guinness World Records.

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Breguet also lays claim to having created a watch specifically for a woman’s wrist — half a century earlier than Patek Philippe. An entry was made in the Breguet archives that states that in response to a commission from the Queen of Naples, dated 8 June 1810, Abraham-Louis Breguet began creating a unique watch for the wrist. The wristwatch, Breguet No. 2639, was completed two and a half years later on December 21, 1812. It featured a gold guilloché oblong-shaped case and was a repeating watch held by a wristlet of twisted hair and gold thread.

Today, the Queen of Naples watch is nowhere to be found, according to Breguet's official website. No public or private collection lists it on its inventory. Does it still exist? All watch lovers hope that it will one day reappear.

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2017-01-03

Globally recognized as the authority on color, Pantone, an X-Rite company, has announced the color of the year for 2017: Greenery. The color has a Pantone number of 15-0343 and is a refreshing, revitalizing symbol of spring and new beginnings.

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The color is a yellow-green shade that recalls spring  foliage and the great outdoors. It is not as dark as a grassy green and, according to Leatrice Wiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, “Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalize and unite, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”

Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront in fashions, accessories and — as we will see as the year moves on — watches.

2016-12-29

It is that time of year when we all reflect back on what 2016 brought our way. We want to thank our loyal customers and our new customers for your continued interest in the products that we select and curate specifically with you in mind. This has been an historic year filled with many memorable moments for us — and hopefully for you.

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We've had a lot of fun presenting the informative articles that ran on our blog and our other social media channels. Among the strongest pieces were auction reports that demonstrated how watches keep their value, and educational pieces that described breakthrough technology and amazing functions. We love to share our passion about watches and time.

As we close out 2016 and look to ring in 2017, we look forward to bringing you more exciting watches, incredible techniques in the watchmaking process, and great behind-the-scenes looks at the brands that bring us time... day in and day out.

The year begins with the world's most exclusive luxury watch exhibition, the by-invitation-only Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. Our reporting will start in January.  Then, the subsequent months will bring us Baselworld and a host of exciting wristwatch events wherein we will see the newest, latest and greatest watches making their debuts. These will be the watches that will mark the trends for 2017 and we look forward to bringing them to you.

Meanwhile, we wish you a very Happy New Year!

2016-12-20

As we come down to the wire on holiday shopping days left in the season, there is always a temptation to rush and do some purchasing in places you may not necessarily be familiar with, including online. However, according to The Counterfeit Report, this is the season when shoppers are moving too quickly and not paying close enough attention — leaving the door wide open to those who trade in counterfeit merchandise.

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According to The Counterfeit Report, a counterfeit awareness and consumer advocate, more than 90% of holiday shoppers plan to go online to buy gifts at bargain prices.

"Consider the economic and personal risk of buying counterfeit goods, and be very skeptical of any online product, unless purchased from authorized retailers," advises The Counterfeit Report.

Consumers are easily deceived and unknowingly purchase counterfeit products that can go undetected until after the holidays when the product fails to continue working or is returned. Last year alone, counterfeiting became a $1.7 trillion global criminal enterprise.

While consumers can compare the authentic items and potential counterfeit counterparts on The Counterfeit Report's website, if you are shopping for watches or jewelry, we suggest you shop with a jeweler you trust.

Protect your hard-earned dollars by following these tips from The Counterfeit Report:
• Buy jewelry and watches only from an authorized retailer and, if possible, make the purchase in the store, with face-to-face interaction.
• If you buy online, look for sellers with clear return policies and good ratings.
• Always buy with a credit card, and never with cash, PayPal withdrawals or wire transfers.
• Always retain the disputed product; it is your only proof of receiving a counterfeit.
• If a refund is denied; notify your credit card company that you have retained the counterfeit product and are disputing the charge.

We know we can provide a wonderful, fully-backed shopping experience when it comes to watches and jewelry. Stop in any time, even last minute, and shop with confidence.

2016-12-13

It's a great time to take a look at the best-selling watches of the year and maybe put one or two of them on your holiday shopping list. Today, we shine the spotlight on three of the most coveted Cartier watches of 2016. While some of these were introduced back in January in Geneva at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, they didn't make their way to retail stores until the fall — so they are still super fresh and sought after.

Drive de Cartier Date Watch

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This year Cartier stepped up its offerings and unveiled an exciting, all-new collection: Drive de Cartier. The watch line features a cushion-shaped retro-inspired case, and there are several versions of the watch, including a three-hands with date, a dual time zone retrograde watch and, at the high end, a tourbillon. The watches are created in stainless steel or in 18-karat rose gold, and each houses one of three in-house-made calibers. At the simple, classic end of the spectrum, we like the Drive de Cartier Three Hands Date watch, with small seconds subdial at 6:00. Powered by a mechanical movement, the 18-karat rose gold version with a white dial and calf leather strap is simple yet alluring.

Clé de Cartier Skeleton Caliber 9612MC

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Crafted in palladium, the new Clé de Cartier Skeleton watch is a superb blend of art and technical prowess. Skeletonizing a watch is no easy task and master artisans work tirelessly to find the perfect balance of open-worked metal and enduring strength. The beauty, however, is proof that the work is worth the wait, as a skeletonized watch offers stunning views of the movement. Such is the case with this year's newest watch. The Clé de Cartier Skeleton Caliber 9612 MC is the brand's first automatic skeleton 165-part movement. Cartier has skeletonized the rotor and gave the bridges a purpose: they form the Roman numerals.

Crash Skeleton

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Another grand example of skeletonization is the Cartier Crash watch with mechanical  manual-wind movement in 18-karat rose gold. The unusually shaped Crash was originally developed in 1967 and has remained a coveted icon ever since. Now, with the skeletonized version housing the 138-part manual wind Caliber 9618 movement, Cartier brings breathtaking beauty and watchmaking prowess. Like the Clé de Cartier Skeleton, the bridges in this watch form the Roman numerals and offer a dramatic view inside.

2016-12-09
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If you take a look at your watch collection, you will most likely find steel and gold, but what about platinum? Platinum timepieces occupy a special niche in the upper echelon of watchmaking. They're beautiful, rare and coveted.

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Recognized as the rarest and most precious metal on earth, platinum is intensely rich in hue. In fact, platinum is so rare that it is estimated that all of the platinum mined from the earth to date could fit inside a large living room. This shimmering white material has been used in watch designs for more than a century and if one owns a white metal watch passed down from a grandfather or great grandfather, chances are it is made of platinum.

Because platinum in its purest form is particularly difficult to work, it is sometimes alloyed with a tiny amount of copper to attain the flexibility needed to create a watch case. For this reason, platinum used in watch fabrication is usually 90 to 95 percent pure. A case made of 18-karat gold, by comparison, contains 75 percent pure gold. Platinum's high purity is reflected in prices a bit higher than the other noble metals, but there is a great deal of personal satisfaction from owning something crafted in platinum. So if you are looking for something truly special in this winter white season, platinum may shine brightly for you.

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2016-12-02
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It's been a wild and wonderful ride at auction this year for timepieces. As the month of December sees several final auctions, we are already getting great results — results that bode well for the argument that a watch is a fine investment in your future.

Just this week, Phillips Auction House sold, among others, several watches previously owned by watch lover and musician Eric Clapton. The auction, which concluded on Tuesday, November 29, along with a Rolex Milestones auction the House held the evening before, achieved almost $25.5 million in sales.

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In its sale a couple of weeks ago, Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, sold a Patek Philippe watch that achieved a world record — selling for $11 million. The watch had been made in 1943 and a was a stainless steel Reference 1518 perpetual calendar chronograph with moon phase. In that auction, a total of nearly 180 watches from more than a dozen different brands sold — to the tune of $27.8 million.

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According to Aurel Bacs, senior consultant with Phillips, the world record accomplishment "is a strong testimony that the watch market is universally accepted as an important pillar of the international art collector community."

2016-11-29
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Recently, at a New York City event attended by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Frederique Constant unveiled its new Horological Smartwatch for women. Paltrow, a brand ambassador for Frederique Constant, introduced the new watch and noted the charitable side of the brand. That night, Frederique Constant contributed $50,000 to DonorsChoose.org, one of Paltrow's favorite charities.

The new Horological Smartwatch for women offers an analog look so it has beauty and brawn. It features MMT technology and a host of functions that include activity tracking, sleep tracking, message and call notifications, and more.

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There are  five models in the collection, including steel and two-tone versions on straps or bracelets, and featuring black or white dials with guilloche decorations, diamond and mother-of-pearl accents. The 34mm watches are powered by a quartz module and join the men's Horological Smartwatches that were unveiled just about two years ago. We invite you in to see the Frederique Constant watches we carry in our store.

2016-11-23
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It's almost here —  Black Friday — and with it the stress and joy of holiday shopping. We want to help take the stress out of the shopping experience by offering a bit of advice about what to look for when buying a watch for a loved one.

Watches actually make a wonderful gift for a variety of reasons, including the fact that a watch is timeless.  It also requires a bit of personal thought and decision-making, which means it shows you cared enough to take the time to give the recipient time. Besides which, every time he or she puts that watch on the wrist — and looks at it throughout the day — a thought of you will come to mind. So, relax, stroll on in to our store, and let us help you pick the perfect timepiece using these key tips in making your selection.

1. Think about the person you are buying for, especially their hobbies and interests. Are they sports lovers? If so, what kind? There are a lot of watches that offer chronographs for timing laps, or tachymeters for tracking speed, for instance. Is he or she an dive-, auto- or aviation-lover? If so, water-, car- and pilot-inspired watches work beautifully.

2. Consider where the person lives and what the climate may be. These factors will help influence whether you select a watch with a metal bracelet, or a rubber or leather strap. Warm climates are often suitable for bracelets, so the strap doesn’t get clammy or sticky on the wrist. Colder climates may call for the warmth of a leather strap. Rubber straps work in all climates and in cases where the person is very active. Interchangeable straps are a great concept because they enable versatility.

3. Don't forget to take age and career into account when selecting a watch. Generally, teenagers and young adults are more interested in what is stylish and trendy, than the functions of the watch, while older people may want a larger, easy-to-read dial. Additionally, lifecycle may come into play. Buying for someone just starting a career versus someone already well entrenched in his or her career may mean the difference between a fashion statement and a "success" statement.

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While these three easy tips will help you out, we also urge you to keep your own budget in mind. You should have a set amount you want to spend already figured out and stay within that range. Now that you are thinking about your loved one’s interests and personality, we invite you to visit our store and take a close up look at the gift of time.

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