Markham Fine Jewelers Blog
2018-04-18

An exciting exhibit about telling time in Medieval days is on display until April 29 at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, and if you are in town, you won't want to miss it. Entitled Now and Forever: The Art of Medieval Time, the exhibit portrays how difficult it was to tell time — and the myths about time — in the Middle Ages.

The exhibit is a comprehensive look at pieces and manuscripts owned by the Morgan that date back from the 11th century and through the 16th century. Most pieces hail from major countries in Europe. Highlights include paintings of farming fields (done according to the projected season), or of sacred feasts (of time and of religion) to celebrate certain anticipated dates. Other items include a long scroll work that explores the mysteries of Golden Numbers, a medieval calendar and a study of how Julius Caesar's Roman Calendar finally came into being. A particularly unusual aspect of the exhibit revolves around how people of the time were obsessed with whether or not time beyond the grave existed.

Wall hangings include ancient wooden astrolabes and an entire 60-foot-long scroll manuscript depicting history as they knew it. In all, it is a fascinating walk through five centuries when time was viewed as seasons and as moons rather than as days, hours or even minutes. If you are in New York any time in the next 10 days, we recommend stopping in to the exhibit.

All images courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum. August: Reaping Wheat, “Da Costa Hours,” Belgium, Ghent, ca. 1515, illuminated by Simon Bening, The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.399, fol. 9v, purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910. Image courtesy of Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, Graz/Austria.

2018-04-11

Last week we discussed some of the biggest watch trends emerging from Baselworld. One of those trends revolves around diving watches, as more and more people get involved in active sports. Understanding what constitutes a great diver's watch is important, as most high-precision diver's watches offer a series of functions that could prove useful. With summer approaching, one may want to consider a new purchase to accompany that deep dive.

To be a true dive watch, a timepiece needs to adhere to certain ISO standards. These standards vary depending on whether one is snorkeling, scuba diving or deep sea diving. For diving, the absolute minimum should be 300 meters of water resistance. Some people may choose 200-meter water-resistant watches, but those will really only let you dive to within 100 meters of the surface. Currently, some of the ISO standards are being reevaluated, and new standards will be issued later this year. Depending on the anticipated depth, having a watch that is equipped with a helium escape valve can also be useful.

Additionally, a good diver's watch should be equipped with a ratcheted, one-way rotating bezel. That bezel helps measure elapsed dive times and can help to indicate when one must begin to resurface. Having a one-way rotating bezel instead of a bi-directional bezel ensures that the bezel will not be accidentally pushed in the wrong direction — leading divers to believe they have more time left underwater than they actually have.

Underwater reading of time is also an important factor, and so most dive watches should have anti-glare crystals and Super-LumiNova hands and markers. These will ensure that even when very little light is reaching the watch, the time indications are still visible.

While case materials for dive watches have come a long way, the preferred case is typically titanium. The metal is light weight, highly scratch resistant and extremely corrosion resistant. Following titanium, dive watches crafted in steel or carbon are the best alternatives. Most dive watches are equipped with metal bracelets or rubber straps, but it is best if you can find a strap with an expansion bracelet to fit over wetsuits. Double-locking bracelet clasps are also a great idea for underwater adventure.

Depending on the brand, some of today's dive watches also offer other important features. These can include double- or triple-locked winding crowns and/or additional gaskets for added water resistance. Just a handful of brands also offer dive watches with an alarm function, wherein the alarm can be sounded under water.

Most dive watches are also COSC-certified chronometers. Chronometers are watches that have undergone rigorous testing by the Controle Official Suisse des Chronometres (COSC) observatory — or by a similar observatory in France, Germany or Japan — over a period of time. The watches are monitored in various positions and under different conditions of pressure, temperature, depth and gravity.

If diving is on your bucket list and you are planning a spring or summer excursion, we invite you to swim on in to our store anytime to check out our seaworthy timepieces.

2018-04-04

It is the biggest luxury jewelry and watch show of the year: Baselworld. The show recently closed its doors after a six-day event that proved highly successful. Retailers, consumer and journalists from around the world converged on Baselworld to see the newest, latest and greatest timepieces make their debuts. In most cases, these watches were years in the design, development and research stages. While they are hot off the presses, so to speak, the newest watches won't make their way to stores for at least another month or so, but that doesn't stop us from doing some trend spotting. Here are three key takeaways from Baselworld 2018.

Vintage, Vintage, Vintage

We can't say it enough. The biggest trend this year revolves around recalling our past. Many watch brands dug into their archives and developed watches based on an earlier, mid-20th-century watch that held some special meaning or appeal. While some brands re-interpreted designs of yesteryear by updating materials, colors, or dials, others unveiled almost literal reproductions of an early iconic watch. Some brands are even celebrating key anniversaries (50th, 60th, 75th) and releasing models in celebration.

Key vintage trends revolve around dial colors, with parchment, silver and lacquered white dials for many classic timepieces. However, also rearing their retro heads are blue and black dials — especially when combined with taupe numerals — as well as salmon or pink-hued dials. Another vintage trend has to do with numerals, markers and hands, with many brands adding Super-LumiNova and returning to classic fonts and hand styles. Lastly, elongated lugs are reappearing on the market — demonstrating a retro look and an ergonomic fit.

GMT Timing

While some key luxury brands continue to unveil high complications and complex novelties, many of the big-name brands favored more useful complexities this year. Such functions include dive watches, calendar watches and even chronographs. However, the most important function, it seems, is the GMT watch. Simply put, a GMT watch features  a 24-hour format hand that indicates a second time zone in very easy terms.  This year's favorite GMT watches are in chocolate brown, forest green, slate gray and ivory dial colors, in addition to the beloved blue.

Sports Watches 

As always, sport watches are an important category this year from both an aesthetic and function perspective. Classic sport watches and rugged sport watches dominate the scene, always with an eye toward design. On the classic sport side, many brands are inspired by the automobile racing world, with elements of the watch reminiscent of steering wheels, engines and grills. Even straps recall the sport, thanks to perforated holes that resemble leather driving gloves.

On the rugged and durable sport watch side, the sky  — or the sea — is the limit. Most popular this year are the dive watches, with many brands unveiling timepieces ready to weather the saltwater and harsh temperatures and depths inherent in diving. Some pilot watches emerge, as well, but these are taking a slight backseat to the more active sports, such as diving and mountain climbing. Key features in the newest sport watches include the use of a wide variety of materials for the case, ranging from high-tech ceramic and carbon fiber to the much-coveted alternative metals, such as bronze and even tantalum.

As mentioned, each of these trends is important in today's active lifestyles, where form and function come together to deliver a timepiece that does much more than just tell the time. We will have the newest watches of 2018 arriving in stores beginning next month, and invite you to stop in any time to see them.

2018-03-22

The Baselworld Fair opened today, and already we are seeing key trends emerge, including an emphasize on interchangeable watch straps, the introduction of new materials and a general downsizing of case sizes for men and women.

Interchangeability and versatility. As witnessed already at SIHH, watch brands are recognizing that consumers today like choice. As such, we expect to see a lot more brands offering interchangeable watch straps — with new methods for easy-click changeability and with grand diversity of leathers, metal bracelets, finishes and colors.

Continued use of new materials. While gold, steel and titanium remain the staple of watchmaking, we continue to see an evolution of new materials. Our favorite is the use of bronze because it develops its own patina over time, making the watchcase unique to its owners. On the flip side is the innovative use of sapphire, with more sapphire box cases being unveiled at the high-end of the spectrum, allowing for ultimate visibility of the movement, and with some brands unveiling new colors of sapphire. Additionally, certain cutting-edge brands are unveiling new alloys and new colors of alloys that bring an edginess to the timepiece.

Smaller case sizes. While the much-loved 44mm size for men and 36mm size for women will never go away, this year we are seeing a reduction in case sizes. For women, these reductions mean a emergence of "mini" cases (24mm) from couture brands, as well as from fashion-forward brands, and of 32mm and 34mm sizes that sit nicely on a thinner wrist. For men, 38mm sizes in a classic watch are beginning to populate the offerings. For comparison's sake, a US quarter measures about 24mm.

2018-03-14

The first few months of every year are filled with so many events in the watch world, starting in January with the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) exhibition in Geneva and then running into the biggest watch show of the year, Baselworld, in Basel, Switzerland. This year, the Baselworld Fair official opens on Thursday, March 22, with pre-show events taking place on the 21st. The show runs through March 27.

This show is important for many reasons. To begin with, this is where the majority of watch brands — from Patek Philippe to Rolex — unveil their newest timepieces, watches destined to set the wrist trends for the coming year. During Baselworld, thousands of new timepieces are shown, many of which will start to make their way to stores later this summer and fall. This is where the trends are set, this is where the new materials in watchmaking are unveiled and this is where brands, retailers and even customers congregate to get the newest info on time and timekeeping.

About 800 brands will exhibit at the show. This list includes big name brands, niche brands, dozens of top independent watch brands and even some top jewelry brands. Additionally, around the city of Basel, another 30 or so brands are showcasing their new timepieces for those adventurous enough to step outside the show's cavernous halls.

We anticipate that this year's Baselworld exhibition will bring us some great new trends and directions for the coming year, and will keep you posted with more news and information very soon.

2018-03-07

This upcoming weekend we are all going lose a bit of sleep. That’s because at 2 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, March 11, we set our clocks ahead by one hour for the start of Daylight Saving Time. The Spring-Ahead concept has roots dating back to the 18th century.

In 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay called “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.” He suggested that people should get out of bed earlier in the morning in spring and summer months to use the light instead of candles. No one knows for sure how many people advocated for Franklin's idea, but we do know that no formal action was put in place to bring the concept to reality for the next 130 years.

Many European countries implemented a Daylight Saving program as early as 1916 when Germany first started, but the USA lagged behind for decades. In fact, here in America, starting just after World War II, the government suggested Daylight Saving Time, but left the implementation of it to the individual states. Each could decide if they wanted to impose it and on which dates.

This caused such confusion about what time it was in different states that in 1966 Congress established the Uniform Time Act – setting the protocol for exact dates and times to start and stop Daylight Saving Time. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the length of Daylight Saving Time in America was extended by four weeks, starting in 2007. Still, some U.S. states/territories don’t participate, and argue the usefulness of it.

Credits: Top image by BigStockPhoto.com; Old timepieces by The Watch Blog.

2018-02-28

Each season, Pantone unveils the newest colors that will grace fashions, styles, home decor and accessories. Generally, the Pantone Color Institute is pretty specific. This year, though, with the spring 2018 colors "variety" is the buzz word.

As issued in the Pantone Fashion Color Trend Report, the colors for spring 2018 consist of four essential classic neutral tones (this is the first time that Pantone has issued a classic color report) and 12 standout hues that run the gamut from pastels to bright acid tones of the 1970s, as well as darker jewel tones.

Meadowlark Yellow tops the charts as the most important color for spring. However, it takes a certain person to wear this bold hue, even if it does embrace optimism. Other key hues come in the red family in the form of Cherry Tomato (obviously red-orange) and Chili Oil (reddish brown), and in the pink family, with tones such as Pink Lavendar and Blooming Dahlia. Additionally pale blues and cool greens come into play.

For the classic side, because, let's face it, one needs to pair these tones with some neutrals, Pantone says the key colors are Warm Sand, Sailor Blue (navy), Harbor Mist (silver gray) and Coconut Milk (creamy white). The names make it sound  like we're in for a beach-and-water adventure this spring.

In all, the colors of the season seem to be more about individuality and personal statement-making. So, what's the best way to use the shades to your advantage this spring? Easy: colorful watches, watch straps and jewelry.  We have the answer; stop in any time to see.

Credits: All images courtesy of Pantone.

2018-02-21

Monday was President’s Day, so to honor our American leaders, we shine a spotlight today on some of their favorite watches.

Throughout history, pocket watches and, later, wrist watches have accompanied many of our leaders on their journeys, to the podiums for speeches and more. In some instances, our leaders purchased those watches and in other instances they were gifts. Either way, time has always had an important role in the White House.

Our very first president, George Washington, owned a Jean-Antoine Lepine pocket watch during his presidency. It is said he asked a friend to purchase the watch for him while that friend was abroad. Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, as well as our fifth president, James Monroe, each owned a pocket watch made by Daniel Vaucher, a famed French watchmaker. Monroe also wore a Gabriel pocket watch. Years later, our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, was regularly seen with an American-made Waltham watch.

As the 19th century gave way to the 20th century, wristwatches came into vogue. One particularly favored brand with presidents was the Vulcain Cricket alarm watch, a favorite of both Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Franklin Delano Roosevelt wore a calendar watch by Tiffany & Co., whose movement was made by Swiss brand, Movado. In fact, Tiffany has created a tribute timepiece in honor of FDR's watch.

Post-World War II presidents also owned top-notch Swiss watches. John F. Kennedy, in the early 1960s, wore a Cartier and an Omega. He was also gifted a watch by Marilyn Monroe, but swiftly gave that watch away without ever wearing it. Other presidents, including Richard Nixon and Lyndon Baines Johnson, carried on the Vulcan Cricket alarm watch tradition. Although LBJ also owned and proudly wore a Rolex.

LBJ_Vulcain_Cricket_560

Our more recent US Presidents were less likely to sport the more expensive gold Swiss watches. Former President Bill Clinton has been seen wearing a Shinola, and, while in office, often wore a Timex. Similarly, President Barack Obama was seen wearing more affordable brands, such as Jorg Gray, TAG Heuer and a Shinola during his time in office. However, in his recently unveiled official portrait (done when each president leaves office), he is wearing a Rolex. As for President Trump: He has been seen wearing a Rolex and a vintage Patek Philippe.

2018-01-31

International watch brands seem to have their attention focused squarely on the American market. This year, for the first time ever, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) is bringing its "Watches & Wonders" exhibition to the USA. Previously held in Asia, the Watches & Wonders show will be held in conjunction with the Miami Design District and is open to the public.

More than 21 brands will be exhibiting at the Miami Design Center over the President's Day weekend (February 16-19), and visitors will be marveling at some of the recently unveiled timepieces seen at the Geneva Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) earlier this month. Mind you, the watches previewed at SIHH are not yet available in the US market, and when they are, they will be featured in our showcases. For now, visitors to Watches & Wonders may be able to see and touch some of them.

In addition to showcasing the newest trends, the Watches & Wonders show is also promoting a host of exciting programs, events and speakers, who will offer interesting takes on watches, jewelry and design, in general. Expect to see pop-up structures, too, from independent brands, such as Armin Strom, Romain Jerome, Roman Gauthier, Kari Voutilainen, F.P. Journe and Ralph Lauren.

Organized in partnership with Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and the Miami Design District, this four-day event will run concurrently with the 30th annual Miami Yacht Show and the Miami Design District Concours exotic car show.

2018-01-24

As we mentioned last week, women's watches were an important trend at the SIHH exhibition in Geneva, the first important watch show of the year. Cartier certainly pulled out all the stops with its newest elegant watches for women, with scintillating designs enhancing several key collections. In fact, for the Cartier Libre collection, the brand focuses on revelations and transformations.

After reviewing its finest archival pieces, Cartier unveils a host of new watches with an emphasis on black-and-white design and on diamonds and high jewels — in true Cartier style. The concept herein was to play with shapes — something this brand has done with panache since its inception. It has transformed, mixed and blended the shapes of its Crash and Baignoire, offering disruptive volumes and proportions for truly feminine pieces.

These newest watches were just unveiled and we are bringing you a close-up look here, but please keep in mind, they won't be making their way to the markets until late summer, early fall ... just in time to don some real glamour for the holidays.

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