Every so often we at Geneva Stripes enjoy answering the many questions that we receive about wristwatches. Below is a selection of questions that we picked out! To submit questions, please subscribe to our account either by pressing the link above or scanning the QR code at the bottom and just type your question. At our next Q and A we shall pick out a selection to answer.
What does the G in G – Shock stand for? – asked by Bobo Cheng, London
The full name of G – Shock is Gravitational Shock and was invented in 1983 by Kikuo Ibe. The story goes that his father passed his watch down to him but unfortunately one day he dropped it and broke it. This inspired him to make a watch around the triple ten concept – water resistant to 10 bar, 10 year battery life and shock resistant from 10 metres. He worked at Casio at the time but the project was unofficial and therefore he made a small team in 1981 and being unable to test the watch in the Casio labs resorted to throwing the watches out of the third floor toilet. He is rumoured to have thrown about 200 watches out, before finally drawing inspiration from a child playing with a rubber ball. Today, despite there being numerous G – Shock models of G – Shock, he actually only owns just two – the very first G – Shock, DW – 5000 and the DW – 5600.
Kikuo Ibe the inventor of G – Shock
Where did you get the name, Geneva Stripes from? – asked by James Suttie, Scotland
Geneva Stripes, also referred to as dameskeening, Fausses Cotes or Cotes de Geneve is a particular patterning adorning a watch movement. Strictly speaking, they are scratches and are made using a rose engine lathe using small disks, polishing wheels or ivory laps.
They mainly serve two main purposes. The first of which is decorative and to enhance the beauty of components especially in watches that have a visible movement through a sapphire exhibition case back.
The Geneva Stripes can be very decorative
The second is for the collection of dust. Due to the roughness of the Geneva Stripes, it catches the microparticles flying around workshops to prevent them from being incorporated into the movement jewels, pivots or lubricants.
What differentiates one luxury watch brand from another? – asked by Kevin Ma, Shanghai
To understand this topic is the start of your watch appreciation journey. In a nutshell each successful and prominent luxury watch brand has at least one specific watch model that it has become famous for and it’s not unusual either for that watch to have a history behind it. To give a few examples, when you think of Patek Philippe, first and foremost you think of the Calatrava and the Nautilus. When you think of Audemars Piguet, their Royal Oak comes to mind, with Tag Heuer, the Monaco is their most famous line, Blancpain, the Fifty Fathoms etc.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
The stronger that particular model, then in general the stronger that brand becomes and it is really these models that differentiates brand to brand.
Another differentiating factor is the history behind the brands and their prestige. In general terms, the longer they have been making watches then the better they are at making watch movements and watches. A lot of the luxury watch brands produce their own in house movements that only they use. For example, Breguet was the first to produce the tourbillon movement, while Zenith has the famous El Primero movement.
Zenith El Primero
Finally, a lot of watch brands actually have very differing styles. If you look closely and become familiar with watches, it is easy to identify which watch comes from which watch house purely by looking at design.
Panerai has a very distinctive look
A Panerai will not look like a Vacheron Constantin. A Patek Philippe won’t look anything like a Rolex. If you can’t see these differences it’s because you just aren’t familiar with their watches and given enough time you would be able to spot timepieces from people’s wrists without hesitation!
A Vacheron looks nothing like a Panerai
Of course this short explanation is only an introduction into what differentiates watch brands and true appreciation of the luxury watch brands inevitably comes from yourself. Everyone has their own favourite brands for differing reasons and I can tell you that I’m still learning something new every day.
What is a tourbillon movement and what so special about it? – asked by Justin Sum, Hong Kong
This is a question that Geneva Stripes could write numerous articles on. We can’t do that here so I will attempt to give you a brief introduction.
The tourbillon movement
The tourbillon, which is French for “Whirlwind” was invented by Abraham Louis Breguet (yes, the current brand known as Breguet) in 1795 and was devised in theory for the pocket watch as a way of counteracting the effect of gravity on the accuracy of the wristwatch. In theory I say, because it has not been shown to actually be that effective at ensuring accuracy, indeed tourbillon watches are far from the most accurate of watches and are no way a match to a chronometer watch.
A Flying Tourbillon
Essentially there are three types of tourbillon including Traditional, Flying and multi axis tourbillons but the idea is the same – to counteract gravity. The transition of tourbillons from pocket watches to modern wristwatches is due to the movement being beautiful and intriguing with many people admiring but not understanding the tourbillon and also as a way for watch brands to say “I can do it” prestige.
What is the most expensive watch in the world? – asked by everyone
Patek Philippe 5016A – only one ever produced
The most expensive wristwatch was a Patek Philippe timepiece sold in 2015 for a record price of $7.3 million. The watch, called the 5016A, sold at Phillips auction in Geneva for more than 10 times its low estimate of $700,000 and the proceeds went to charity; Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.
$5.7 million Patek Philiipe in 2010
The previous record was also held by Patek Philippe 18-carat gold timepiece and was sold at Christie’s for $5.7 million back in 2010. However, both prices are dwarfed once compared to the most expensive pocket watch. In 2014, a Henry Graves Supercomplication pocket watch made by Patek Philippe went for $24.4 million.
The Henry Graves Supercomlication Patek Philippe Pocket Watch
The 5016A surprised many at the time as it has no diamonds or jewels – its made of simple stainless steel, with a subtle blue enameled dial and blue, alligator leather strap.
Its value comes mainly from its scarcity and complications (features on a watch that do more than tell time). Only one of these watches was ever made and it’s a “grande complication” consisting of 506 parts that includes a tourbillon, a minute repeater and retrograde perpetual calendar.
My Rolex GMT has the words TC – 25. What does it stand for? – asked by Geraldine Tam, Hong Kong
Notice Swiss T < 25 around the 6 marker
The letters are actually “Swiss TC< 25”. These letters were placed on Rolex watches from 1960 to 1998 to show that the watch was Swiss made and contained a certain quantity of Tritium Coating that emitted less than 25 mCi of radiation. For those that don’t know what Tritium is, it was the luminescent material used to coat the markers, numerals and dial of the watch and would have made the watch illuminate at night.
And just in case you see the words T Swiss made T, this means that the watch is Swiss and contains a certain quantity of tritium that emits less than 7.5 mCi of radiation.
Modern Rolexes don’t need use tritium and it has been superseded with Super-Luminova, non toxic and non radioactive material.
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