Markham Fine Jewelers Blog
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.

2016-11-17

More than 50 years after her tragic death, legendary starlet Marilyn Monroe still has legions of fans and admirers. Thanks to the upcoming sale by Julien's Auctions, you may have a chance to bid on a wide array of Monroe's personal artifacts, including two of her watches.

The sale will take place over a three-day period from November 17 to 19, with the items on display in Los Angeles. The watches are set to hit the auction block on November 18.

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Culled from multiple sources, including the Collection of David Gainsborough-Roberts, The Estate of Lee Strasberg and Déjà vu Property From The Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe, this may be the most comprehensive sale of Marilyn artifacts ever.

Included in the sale are notes scribbled on paper, letters, makeup cases, lipsticks, costumes, handbags, furs, the original sequined dress she wore when she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy, jewelry and several timepieces.

While Monroe did not own glitzy jewelry, she did possess several watches, including a diamond cocktail watch by Blancpain (with movement stamped Blancpain and Rayville Watch Co.) The Art Deco piece, to which diamonds have been added, is believed to be gift from her third husband, Arthur Miller. The watch is expected to sell in the range of $80,000 and  $100,000.

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A second Art Deco watch possessed by Monroe is also up for sale. The watch houses a movement made by Marvin and features a gold-tone metal bracelet with diamonds that were added later. It is expected to sell in the range of $15,000 to $20,000.

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2016-11-03

Daylight Saving Time in the United States ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, when the clocks fall back by an hour, and many of us will certainly enjoy an extra 60 minutes of much-needed sleep. Meanwhile, our friends at ATimelyPerspective.com offer a fun look at the origins of DST, which happen to stretch back to the days of our Founding Fathers. Here is a little insight into the history of DST for true time junkies.

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Some credit the concept of DST to American politician and inventor Benjamin Franklin, who, in a 1784 essay entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” suggested people get out of bed earlier in the morning to use the light instead of candles.

More than a century later, in 1895, a New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, who liked to collect insects in his free time, wanted more daylight time for his studies, so he presented a report to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight savings time program. Though the concept wasn’t embraced internationally, it laid the groundwork for what would come later.

In 1905, British builder William Willett proposed the idea of DST, suggesting setting clocks ahead in April and switching them back in September. His idea caught the attention of Robert Pearce, who introduced a bill to the House of Commons in 1908. The concept was opposed by farmers in England and did not pass, but it laid more groundwork.

In 1916, Germany was the first country to implement DST and several countries followed suit, including America.

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In the United States after World War II, states could choose whether or not they wanted to impose DST and on which dates. However, mass confusion caused Congress to establish the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which set a protocol for DST times/dates. Still, some U.S. states/territories don’t participate, calling out the dubious usefulness of DST.

As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the length of DST in America was extended by four weeks, starting in 2007. Additionally, while it is recognized around the world, not all countries practice DST, and those that do, do so on different dates.

Daylight Savings Time image: karenroach/Bigstockphoto.com

2016-11-01

We have so many watch aficionados asking us all the time about what they need to know when it comes to buying vintage watches. Now, the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors (NAWCC) has put together a three-day course entitled "Luxury or Lie? How to Identify a Genuine Watch."

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Now, you know that if you buy a new watch from an authorized retailer you are safe. But when it comes to buying vintage watches from a source you don't know you need to be careful.  The course — being offered in Santa Paula, Calif., November 12-14 — reviews watch terminology, complications, movements and more. Additionally, it teaches which components are the most important to study when buying a vintage watch, including dials, hands, strap and even the case.

The course instructors are also bringing in both genuine and fake watches for participants to examine close up.  Among brands covered throughout the two day event are Omega, Rolex, Rolex-Tudor, Breitling, Cartier, Tag Heuer, Panerai, Bell & Ross, Montblanc, Girard-Perregaux, Audermars Piquet and others.

There is a fee for the class and interested parties should visit NAWCC.org. Of course, you can typically trust vintage watches sold by authorized retailers as well as the major auction houses.

2016-10-27

Halloween is around the corner and that makes this the perfect time to talk about skeletons. Well, not the kind we usually think of at Halloween, but the kind we think of when we think luxury timepieces: Skeleton watches. Referred to as skeletons or skeletonized watches, these timepieces are intricate and alluring because the majority of the metal movement parts have been cut away and sculpted to offer open-worked magnificence.

To create a skeletonized watch, skilled master artisans and watchmakers spend hours upon hours slimming pieces to their tiniest possible size so that only the minimum metal is visible.  Sometimes the skeletonizing — the act of paring away the metal and then finely finishing it — can take several weeks to a month. It is also a fine balancing act, because as the metal is removed, the strength of the material can be compromised, affecting the integrity of the watch. The perfect skeleton is bare bones, but still generates maximum efficiency and precision.

Generally, once a movement has been fully finished, it is cased between a sapphire crystal and sapphire case back, enabling stunning see-through visibility of the beautiful work of art. While many brands offer top-notch skeleton watches, Cartier — a brand we are proud to carry — is a master at this art. We invite you to stop in any time and take a look at the masterful work inherent in a skeleton watch.

2016-10-25

There is an enticing exhibition taking place until the end of the year at the National Watch & Clock Museum. Entitled Sacred, the exhibit focuses on the symbolism and religious concepts of time. The exhibit is designed to give visitors an inside view about how various religions view the passage of time.

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Time has been used for millennia as a major focus in many religions. Christians focus their feast days around different times of the year, the Islamic and Jewish community focus on the stages of the moon, while the Buddhists see time as a wheel that focuses on the movement of the sun. Similarly, many ancient religions view time differently. The Druids measured time by the solstices, the Egyptians by the stars and rise and fall of the Nile, and the Mayans and Aztecs around a solar year."

The exhibition showcases many of these views of time for both the ancient and modern civilizations. The museum, home to America's largest timekeeping collection, is located in Columbia, Pa., and has an impressive collection of watches and clocks — with revolving special exhibits such as this one.

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Once you're there, don't forget to visit the ongoing "James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution" exhibit, which showcases many of the timepieces worn by Bond stars in EON Productions movies from 1973 through 1995.

2016-10-20

When you are buying a fine timepiece with a mechanical movement inside, the technical specifications for the caliber usually list the number of jewels. Typically, those jewels are synthetic rubies, but sometimes brands use synthetic blue sapphires, as well — for a bit of a different look. The thing is, unless the movement is visible via a transparent caseback, you don't even see those jewels. So then, why use them at all? The reason is simple and effective: using synthetic jewels in the movement as bearings actually reduces friction within the caliber and therefore gives the movement a longer life by reducing wear and tear.

Adding jewels instead of mechanical metal pieces to do the bearings' job helps ensure accuracy. It also enables the watch brand to make the movement smaller in size and in weight than it would if the parts were made of metal. Additionally, rubies can withstand temperature changes and so offer stability. However, setting these minuscule jewels into their designated spots on the movement is no easy task. In fact, seasoned watchmakers must do this job using tweezers and microscopes. In the end, though, the look is beautiful, and it is great if you get to see the rubies (or sapphires) in all their glory in the timepiece.

As noted, these jewels are synthetically developed. Most use aluminum and chromium oxide that undergo heating, fusing and crystallizing processes. These rubies are not as valuable as natural rubies.  The number of rubies that are used in each watch movement varies depending on the timepiece and its complexity. Typically, a three-hands watch will have about 11 to 17 rubies in it. Generally, though, more complex calibers and more moving components will demand the use of more rubies.

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2016-10-13

We've all heard the term "shock resistant" in the watchmaking world. However, what does this term really mean and is your timepiece resistant enough to absorb shocks caused by falling, dropping, exerting too much acceleration at once, and more?

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It is a viable question in today's fast-paced world where active lifestyles put us on the edge of powerful sports and lifestyle engagements all the time. As such, today's top watchmakers are going to new heights to make their watches sturdier so they can withstand the rigors of daily life.

Essentially, a truly shock-resistant watch is one whose movement is not damaged when dropped or subjected to constant impactful motions (i.e., worn on the wrist during a tennis match). Generally, watch brands achieve this via different types of suspension systems for the balance wheel. Such systems include pivots that can hold a balance wheel in place, while offering enough "give" to go with the situation or even more complex multi-level suspension processes.

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The most commonly used system is the Incablock — invented in the early 1930s and perfected time and again. Incablock is a trade name for a spring-loaded mounting system for the jewel bearings that support the mechanical watch’s balance wheel. Some brands today combine the Incablock system with synthetic jewels, silicon hairsprings, non-ferrous escape wheels, outer housing containers, ceramic ball bearings and other high-tech materials and trains that make the watch movement ever more resistant to blunt force trauma.

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The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) has also issued certain standards of shock resistance. In the watch world, to be called shock resistant, a watch must meet certain tests and controls and adhere to the standards of shock resistance issued by the ISO, including keeping accuracy while undergoing shock of  +/- 60 seconds/day. Additionally, most watch brands using shock resistant movements also use top-quality case and crystal materials to avoid breakage.

Is your watch shock resistant? If you have purchased a certified chronometer, yes. Other watches that are shock resistant mostly include dive watches, pilot watches and certain high-tech sport watches. Stop in any time to discuss shock resistance with us and to find the watch that is right for your active lifestyle.

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