Markham Fine Jewelers Blog
2017-09-21

Each season the Pantone Color Institute evaluates collections from the top fashion designers at New York Fashion Week and determines the key colors of the next season — reporting them in The PANTONE Fashion Color Report. Generally, the Institute highlights the top 10 colors for men’s and women’s fashions and accessories.

This fall's color palette runs the gamut from pale shades of pink and gray to blue, green, and burgundy — and you can expect to see those colors on watch straps, as well. Hues include Grenadine red, tawny Autumn Maple, pink Ballet Slipper, bright Marina blue and classic autumnal shades of Navy Peony, Neutral Gray, Butterum and Tawny Port.

2017-09-19

Many watches today feature mother-of-pearl dials that are shimmering with light and different hues. Generally used on women's watches, mother-of-pearl has become a favorite for men's watches, as well, especially in darker hues. Not all mother-of-pearl dials are natural in color. Dials can be enhanced with color by painting a lacquer or varnish on the back.

The making of a mother-of-pearl dial is not easy. It begins with ultra-thin sheets of mother-of-pearl that are often brittle and can break easily. Those sheets are then cut into orbs, squares or rectangles, depending on the shape of the watch case.

The precise and painstaking task requires expert craftsmen and specialty tools. Often, the job is delegated to a special dial-making company that can handle the pressure. Even then, a dial maker with a strong team can produce only a few thousand top-quality mother-of-pearl dials annually. Watch brands typically buy the base dial already cut and then add their hands, indices or other accents in their workshops.

The best natural mother-of-pearl dial is extra bright white and is sourced in Australia, the South Seas or regions in the Pacific Ocean. Black pearl dials are typically Tahitian in origin. Natural mother-of-pearl is also found in very pale shades of pink, cream and beige. Sometimes the mother-of-pearl is engraved or decorated with sunray or other motifs.

2017-09-14

This year marks the 17th edition of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve — a top watch awards event. An expert jury has pre-selected 72 watches that will vie for the winning prize in each category. The winners will be announced at a gala affair in Geneva on November 8, 2017.

Earlier this year, the jury, consisting of 28 multi-disciplinary experts from around the world, selected six watches to compete in each of the 12 categories. Categories include Ladies watches, Ladies High-Mech, Men's, Chronographs, Calendars, Artistic Crafts and more. In addition to the categories, there are some other prizes being offered — for a total of 15 — including the prestigious “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix.

Leading up to the final awards ceremony, there will be a traveling exhibition of the 72 watches that will tour to Milan in October at the Palazzo Clerici, in partnership with BMW. They will continue to Mexico, where they will be shown at the retail location of Berger Joyeros before headlining at the SIAR - Salón Internacional Alta Relojería exhibition.

The watches will travel to Taipei, and then on to Geneva, where they will be on exhibit from November 1 to 12 at the Museum of Art and History (MAH). The winning watches will make a final trip Dubai, where they will be exhibited during Dubai Watch Week organized by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.

We are happy to carry many of the brands that have made it to the final selection, and will bring news of the winners in November.

Credits: Photos courtesy of GPHG.org.
2017-09-12

Today, so many watch brands offer timepieces with hands or numerals that glow in the dark, but did you ever wonder how they bring luminescence to the dial? Over the years, the materials used to make dials easy to read at night or underwater have evolved, from dangerous and life-threatening substances, such as radium in the early 1900s, to today's safer and  brighter methods.

Easily the most common product used today to make the hands and markers luminous is a material that was developed in the early 1990s: Super-LumiNova. The patented product comes in a variety of glowing colors, ranging from blue to green and even orange. It is made from a mix of materials, predominantly strontium aluminate, and is not radioactive.

Since its creation, the strength of Super-LumiNova has evolved to the point where now, depending on the amount and type used by the individual watch brands, it can be as much as 10 times brighter than earlier materials. The substance is applied in various strengths or coatings to the hands, the numerals, indices or other accents on the dial. It absorbs UV light and subsequently can glow in the dark for hours.

Other materials sometimes used by professional sport watchbands include “gaseous tritium light source” (GTLS) — tiny tubes of tritium placed together to offer an intense brightness stronger than Super-LumiNova. The material is radioactive and so it is hermetically sealed in the tiny tubes. The company best known for supplying these tiny tubes is MB-Microtec. While Super-LumiNova can dim after 20-30 minutes if it doesn't get further UV exposure, the tritium capsules don't dim for 20 years. However, this substance is banned in some countries.

2017-08-30

Car and watch lovers take note, TAG Heuer has unveiled the new Special Edition Monaco watch that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the famed Gulf Racing stripes. The square-shaped chronograph features the Gulf Racing stripes in all their colorful blue and orange appeal, along with the Gulf logo on the watch dial.

The first Monaco watch was unveiled to the world in 1969 and is the first Swiss-made automatic chronograph that was both square and waterproof. It was released in honor of Heuer's long-standing relationship with the Monaco Brand Prix. That first watch featured a metallic blue dial, domed crystal and a crown positioned on the left side of the case. It was powered by the Caliber 11 — the brand's first automatic chronograph movement. The watch was immediately identifiable from across a crowded room.

Steve McQueen wore a Monaco 1133B Calibre 11 automatic timepiece in the 1971 film Le Mans — winning it a legendary place in watch and car history. McQueen’s character was sponsored by Gulf Oil and his Porsche 917 car was decorated with the Gulf Stripes.

This makes the new watch ever more special. It is powered by the TAG Heuer Caliber 11 and offers 48 hours of power reserve. The 39mm case is crafted in steel with a steel bezel and domed sapphire crystal. The watch, with perforated blue leather strap with orange stitching, is water resistant to 100 meters. The dial has a blue sun ray, and blue and orange Gulf stripes. We are excited to have this watch in our store by mid-September. In the meantime, stop in and see our great assortment of TAG Heuer Monaco watches.

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.

2017-07-28

In its continual quest to provide true instruments for the wrist, Bell & Ross pays tribute this year to Coast Guard professionals who perform daring rescues at sea with its BR V2-92 Garde-Cotes watches. Particularly, the brand has developed two new watches — a three-hand watch and a chronograph.

With a color scheme inspired by the rescue teams, the new watches feature gray, orange and white as the key colors — gray emulating the helicopter fuselage and orange for the visual codes of maritime safety. White is used for the numerals, markers and hands, and are luminescent for easy readability in the dark.

The 41mm watches are powered by automatic mechanical movements and are water resistant to 100 meters. These newest pieces are rugged, durable and boldly impressive. We are proud to carry a wide range of Bell & Ross watches and invite you in any time for a closer look — whether you jump out of helicopters or not.

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