Friday, April 10, 2009


Tellurium Johannes KeplerImage via Wikipedia

We all know about the rapid evolution and consumer infatuation with the cell phone, we all know about the hype that surrounds the ipod and the iphone and how they have changed our lives forever. While our modern world is mesmerized by the gadgets of electronic wizardry there is an alternate universe evolving within the world of horology.
And this world is thriving and making a comeback since its demise in the seventies due to the quartz watch movement. The mechanical watch is making a triumphant comeback and rather than embracing electronics, explores the human fascination with the machine.

What these watches show us is that no matter how magical and clever the microchip can be there is no art in it. The mechanical watch is a display of human ingenuity and creativity with a connection to the past of machines that made the industrial revolution. The cogs, gears, pulleys and springs of machines now in miniature and on the wrist pulsating, turning, throbbing and even chiming is an endless fascination for the owner.
Although these watches are only for the extremely wealthy as they cost nearly as much as a Ferrari, they are an endless source of fascination and admiration for the rest of us.

Ulysse Nardin have just created a mechanical clock inside a mobile phone. Now there's a concept that just makes me wonder. Is this going in the wrong direction? I think so because a fabulous watch is forever and and cell phone is a throwaway item. Like all microchip products there is an inherent built in obsolescence that doesn't apply to mechanical watches.

Check out these magnificent inventions that explore the world of machines like never before.
The beauty of these watches is in viewing the machine in action. The novelty of seeing how inventive and creative the human mind can be in creating new ways of showing time.

Urwerk- the Tarantula
Harry Winston - Opus V
Ulysse Nardin - The Freak
MBF - Horological machine
Christophe Claret Dual Tow

Quantum - Q1

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Hammer said...

They are fascinating to look at.

I'm amazed that there are enough people willing and able to buy a $100,000+ watch to keep makers in buisness.

I would be happy with a watch that keeps the date right, I've not even seen a digital watch that could handle the months with less than 31 days.

Anonymous said...

Remind me to refill the clepsydra when I get home...

Jeannie said...

My cousin (used to?) makes wooden gear clocks. No clue if this works for him but he was a mathematician and I think the precision appealed to him. I think the super rich will pretty much buy anything impressive whether they understand what they are buying or not.

Lexcen said...

FJ, water clock, I had to look it up ;-)

Lexcen said...

Jeannie, I'm not super rich but anyone who buys one of these watches certainly knows what they are buying.
Why? Because there are so many options in the super rich watch catalog to chose from.

Anonymous said...

Horology? Is that the difference between a "short time" and a "long time"?

Anonymous said...

I grew up watching and listening to our old 'grandfather' clock in the hallway. The chime was so comforting to me. Now I want one in my home.

Lexcen said...

Pinky, needless to say I have a grandfather clock. We don't bother winding it up now because the chimes are beautiful but annoying at night.

Anonymous said...

I just slept through them as a child. Now they wake me up when I visit my mom.

Mattexian said...

Wow, those are some incredible timepieces. I'm content with the two I've got, on the cheap. A Timex wind-up military-style wristwatch, and a Molniya (Russian) "Order of the Great War" 50th anniversary pocketwatch. (And my grandpa's old Elgin pocketwatch, but it doesn't want to run well now.) The second one (well, one like it) had been on my wish list for a while, as part of my Y2K list, even developing into a joke. When a jeweler's ad came on the radio praising their "fine Swiss watches," I hollered at the radio "I don't want a fine Swiss watch, I want a sturdy Russian one!"

Lexcen said...

I too have a lovely Elgin pocket watch. My collection is mainly 70's mechanical watches, they are inexpensive but not "cheap".