Friday, February 17, 2017

Germany Updates, Part Two

***Josh and Tyler reporting from Europe [part 2]

"If someone had told me 6 months ago that I would be making watch parts, I would have laughed at them" - said Tyler. As excited as only he can be, Tyler is raving about the first batch of screws they've just made. Are we making history here? Two Aussie kids designing, programming and machining on their own CNC lathe?

Maybe. But it is fair to say that things are happening at such a pace that we are constantly focused on just one thing: the next tool, the next attachment, the next piece of equipment and the material we'll need tomorrow.

Josh is bit less cheerful. After disassembling the lathe's main head to change the collet and bushing, the complexity and the level of accuracy required finally hit him. While watching the German engineer doing the fine adjustment, he felt like a student watching a violin maestro playing Stradivarius. It is a steep learning curve. Achieving precision is going to be a true challenge. Amidst all that, he is keeping his head firmly on his shoulders and making the tough decisions, for which he certainly gets my credit.

There will be tears and sleepless nights, but hey - if it was meant to be easy then everyone could call himself a Master.

Below is a link to the video of the first screw being manufactured. The boys sent this video of the machining in action, but be warned: you need an eagle eye to see the action. It takes 28 seconds to make one screw - and they are still taking it easy. The movement of the tools is just amazing. Just watch at 00:13 the screw being ejected into the catcher.

Stay tuned for more!

Happy collecting,

Germany Update, Part One

***Josh and Tyler reporting from Germany: "No snow, beer too cold!"

Well, not quite - but probably not too far off either. Yes, the boys are having fun, and so far, plenty of good news. Our CNC lathe is ready; the official training has commenced and coding is well under way. With a bit of luck, by the end of the week they will be making their first watch components!
Sydney delivery and installation date is now June 1, which is in accordance to the previous estimate. The other good news is that the 316L steel samples obtained from an Australian supplier are within the required tolerances. So at least we won't have to air freight 4 metre long rods from Germany – or at least not for components smaller than 3mm.

The lathe itself is the crucial watch parts making machine, and this particular model is well used by both German and Swiss makers. Anyone from Nomos to Lange has it in operation so we know that machine is capable of producing the finest watch parts. Of course, it will take us many months - if not years - to master it, but we are definitely heading in the right direction.

Another piece of good news is that we should be able to make even more complex parts than we originally anticipated: the 6-axis lathe can accept some special 'attachments' capable of cutting very fine pinions as well as gears. However, we will be limited by the diameter – for components larger than 3mm in diameter (main spring barrel for example) we would need one more CNC lathe...

Exciting days ahead - so stay tuned for more!

Happy collecting,

Thursday, February 16, 2017



In 2014 an Englishman knocked on my door. He introduced himself as a writer, working on a new title called ‘How the World Became Obsessed with Time’. He looked smart and sounded sharp, so I decided to give him a chance. We chatted for about 45 minutes on a subject he found fascinating; a small anonymous watchmaker from Australia taking on the Swiss heavyweights. Quite frankly, I forgot all about him and our conversation before the lift even hit the ground floor. 

Until last week that is, when a customer mentioned that he’d read about the rebelde project in a book. “What book?” I asked. “The one written by Simon Garfield – the best-selling British author”, he replied.

Wasting no time, I went online and lo and behold, I actually found the book. To my shock and horror, not only was I mentioned, but Simon had wasted three and a half pages penning down our conversation. I even got myself on the top of the index: Hacko, followed by Harrison (George, the watchmaker), Hermes, Hillary (Sir Edmund) and Hitler (yeah, that one).

Of course, I could not bring myself to pay the full retail price of GBP 16.99, so I found a ‘used copy in good condition', for just US $4. I’m not going to spoil your enjoyment of what is said, but I would recommend that you do the same. The book is definitely worth a read.

Timekeepers is a vivid exploration of the ways we have perceived, contained and saved time over the last 250 years, narrated in Simon Garfield’s typically inventive and entertaining style. As managing time becomes one of the greatest challenges we face in our lives, this multi-layered history helps us understand it in a sparkling new light.

Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time
 By Simon Garfield
ISBN: 978 178 211 3195

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

new rebelde ambassador

***Brand Ambassador Introduction (by Tyler)

It’s with great pride that I make this announcement. Allow me to elaborate: I have three great passions in life: watchmaking, science and engineering; although it could be said that watchmaking is just a combination of the latter two. But it’s not just I that share these passions - we’re all advocates around here. There are frequent discussions about how we can do our part to give back to the fields from which we reap so very much. Not just for our own benefit, but for society as a whole. 

According to research by Jonathan Haskel, Professor of Economics at the Imperial College London, up to 50% of Australia’s GDP is essentially Research and Development (R&D) based. And that’s just what we can quantify. The true extent of R&D’s contribution to our economy probably runs much deeper. It’s at 50% now, but you can bet that it’ll be at 99% in the near future as every field continues to benefit from cutting edge developments at an ever increasing rate. An incredible return when you consider that only 0.4% (in 2016) of our budget is spent on it; the return on investment yielded simply can’t be matched.

When including private sector contributions, Australia’s percent of GDP spent on R&D jumps from 0.4% to 2.1%, still well below Japan and South Korea at 4.3% and 3.5% respectively (is it any surprise that so much innovation comes from them?) but a sizeable increase nonetheless, showing just how important our contributions are.

So how does this tie in with today’s announcement? We’ve been on the lookout for a new brand ambassador for some time, but we’ve been after a very specific type of person; someone who’s at the top of their field and whose work is helping advance society as a whole. 

We wanted to change the ambassador paradigm. We weren’t looking for someone that would bring us instant recognition. We didn’t want a famous name that we can flog at every opportunity to turn heads, nor did we want someone that would act as a constant advocate for us. On the contrary, we wanted an ambassador that we could contribute to and from whom we could learn from, and Nick was also hoping to continue supporting Sydney University as he’s done with Peter McMinn, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Sydney University, over the last two years. rebelde’s modest donation helped fund critical research in infectious diseases in Timor Leste with great success, an experience that really opened our eyes to the amount of good a small contribution can do.

With that said, our new rebelde ambassador is Michael Biercuk, Professor of Quantum Physics and Quantum Technology, and director of the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney.

Professor Biercuk isn’t just incredibly intelligent and friendly, he’s also a real watch guy with a passion for horology and a collection of very nice pieces. As an added bonus, Josh and I are both Sydney University students, so we’re thrilled to have someone from our home team on board.

Nick, Josh and I had the opportunity to visit his lab last Wednesday (something I’ll talk about in more detail soon) and it was an eye opening experience. As many of you might know, Nick rarely dishes out superlatives; a vintage Patek Philippe might elicit a ‘nice’ or a ‘cool’, if you’re lucky, but he described the experience as ‘life changing’.  

Some of the equipment in the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney

If you’re not familiar with quantum physics, just know that almost every piece of technology you use - mobile phone, laptop, GPS system, WiFi network - works because of our understanding of quantum physics. But staggeringly, we’re barely off the starting line when it comes to our grasp of the field.
The potential applications of Quantum Physics and Quantum Technologies are too vast to even begin to describe (though I’ll do my best to talk about some of these applications each week).  

And as if that’s not exciting enough, here’s something you, as a watch enthusiast, can really appreciate: the field of Quantum Physics traces back to our research on the measurement of time, and it remains at the core of what Professor Biercuk and his team of researchers are doing today.

A photo of three atoms captured in the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney

Yes, without ever having known it, the great watchmakers of the past few centuries have, in their endless toil to properly understand and measure time, all contributed to the field of Quantum Physics that has changed our understanding of the world as we know it.  

The timing for this couldn’t be better; we’re on the cusp of producing our very first watch parts right here in Australia in the next few months.   

We’ll be delivering Professor Biercuk his customised rebelde watch tomorrow. Nick assembled this bespoke piece as per Michael's selection of rebelde movement, dial, case and hands. The watch has no serial number because Nick wanted it to stand out so he decided to leave it unnumbered, as it is a one-off special piece. I can only tell you it is a titanium 44mm case. 

We look forward to speaking in more depth about his work and I'm sure you'll find it fascinating; the parallels between our fields are great. As well, we'll continue to talk about how we can all do our part to support science and engineering as a whole.

It’s easy to get jaded when hearing of the new 100 million dollar machine that some laboratory has acquired, thinking that all is well and that a small contribution would be of little use. In fact, ten thousand dollars is enough to fund a single PhD student for an entire year. A thousand dollars might fund some critical field work for a few weeks. Our future success as a nation hinges on our continued support of these critical areas. 

But your support needn’t only be financial; at a time when many choose to be wilfully ignorant of science and engineering, just giving our researchers our time and understanding can go a long way.

Watch this space, as we plan on auctioning the one and only rebelde50 numbered 50/50 piece, from which all proceeds will go to the University.

Happy collecting,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to set a Cartier Chronoflex

The Cartier Chronoflex is a special watch that features a perpetual calendar. For those that don’t know, a perpetual calendar is a watch that automatically adjusts the date at the end of the month to account for the differing number of days in the months.

For example, on your average calendar watch, the watch doesn’t distinguish between months with 28, 29 and 30 days, it simply turns for the full 31 days. At the end of each month, the owner must manually change the date to account for the difference, if need be.

A watch with a perpetual calendar function, however, can account for this difference and advances the date automatically. It even accounts for leap years, so that the appropriate amount of days are ticked over in February.

Setting the perpetual calendar on the Cartier Chronoflex is somewhat tricky, but once it’s set, one needn’t worry about setting the date for as long as the battery lasts. The only thing that need be done is to add or subtract an hour each year to account for daylight savings.

Setting the chronoflex is a six step process (seven, if you also need to reset the chronograph hands). The process may sound daunting, but once it’s set, you’ll get years of enjoyment from your piece, knowing that it’s always right on time. We recommend you let your watchmaker do it for you though (and give him this guide, because he’ll be hard pressed to find anything online about it) as it involves opening up the caseback.

Though the Cartier Chronoflex doesn’t display what month or year it is, the internal memory needs to know these things in order to display the correct date.

Step #1 - entering initialisation mode:

  • Pull the crown into position 2. (i.e. all the way out.) 
  • Adjust the hour and minute hand so that they display a full hour. (i.e. the minute hand at 12, the hour hand on 1, 2, 3 etc.)
  • Press the bottom chronograph pusher 3 times followed by the top pusher 3 times. 
The watch should now be in initialisation mode.

Step #2 - Initialization of the Year:

You needn’t know the exact year for this step, but you need to know whether the current year is a leap year or what year it is in between one. (For example, 2016 is a leap year, 2017 the one after, 2020 being the next leap year.) The dial is divided into four segments divided by the numerals 12, 3, 6 and 9, with 12 being the leap year and 3 the year after, and so on.

  • Press the bottom pusher, which will move the seconds hand ¼ of a turn. 
  • Keep pressing until it’s positioned on the appropriate numeral. 
  • Press the top pusher to commit the year to memory. 
The watch should now be in the month setting phase.

Step #3 - Initialisation of the Month:

The 12 hour numerals represent the 12 months of the year.

  • Press the bottom pusher, which will move the seconds hand 1/12 of a turn. Keep pressing until it’s positioned on the appropriate numeral. 

  • Press the top pusher to commit the month to memory. 

The watch should now be in the date setting phase.

Step #4 - Initialisation of the Date:

The actual date subdial is not used in this step, nor will it change at this point. This step simply commits the correct date to the internal memory - the actual date displayed on the dial is changed at a later step. The first 31 minutes on the dial represent the days of the month. If you move the seconds hand past the 31st minute it’ll automatically return to the 1st minute. Each press of the bottom pusher will move the seconds hand along one minute.

  • Press the bottom pusher until the seconds hand is on the correct date. 
  • Press the top pusher to commit the date to memory. 
The watch should now be in the time setting phase.

Step #5 - Initialisation of the Hour:

In this step, the watch needs to know what hour it is on the date you set in the previous step. The first 23 minutes on the dial (12 o'clock being the 0’th hour) represent the 24 hours in a day.

  • Press the bottom pusher until it’s on the correct minute. 
  • Press the top pusher to commit the hour to memory. 
The initialisation step is now complete.

Step #6 - Correcting the Calendar:

If the date displayed on the dial is already correct, you can skip this step.

  • Open up the case back of the watch. 
  • Turn the small correction screw until the date displayed is correct. Each 90 degree turn advances the date hand one day. 
  • Replace the case back. 

Step #7 - Correcting Alignment of Chronograph Hands:

If the chronograph hands are already aligned ( all at 12 o’clock), you can skip this step. 

  • Pull the crown into the first position. (i.e. not all the way out.) 
  • Press and hold the bottom pusher 
  • While holding the bottom pusher, press the top pusher 3 times in succession. 
  • Press the bottom pusher until the chronograph hand is at 12 o’clock. 
  • Press the top pusher once to exit chronograph correction mode and enter the correction mode for the hour and minute counters. 
  • Press the bottom pusher to advance the counter hands until they’re both at 12 o’clock. (Maintaining pressure on the bottom pusher will cause the hands to advance rapidly.) 
  • Press the top pusher to exit the chronograph setting mode. 
  • Push the crown back in. 
Happy collecting,

The Importance of Servicing

One of the most amazing things about mechanical watches is that they can last forever. They can serve you for life and many owners develop an unbreakable bond with their timepieces. It’s why nothing else is passed down, and appreciated, through generations quite like a watch. Few other mechanical things (or non-mechanical for that matter) have such staying power. It’s part of the reason I love them so much. But to do so, they must be cared for and serviced every 4-6 years.

We thought we’d just quickly show you one of the things that can happen if watches are neglected.

Recently we had an Omega Seamaster GMT in the shop that would stop running after a couple of hours. The watch was keeping perfect time and yet something was draining its power.

When disassembling the piece, Nick noticed that one of the wheels in the gear train was locked tight. It had little to no play in it and was clearly (or at least part of) the reason for the power being drained.

We decided to place the plate with the offending jewel on the optical comparator that’s (still) sitting on our office floor to get a clear picture of what’s causing the wheel to lock up:

What you’re seeing here is the result of oil and dust combining over the years to form a dark thick paste, that has resulted in the third wheel being locked up. A service every 5 years or so is more than enough to stave off this issue.

After a thorough clean, the difference is huge:

Thankfully, this watch will survive unscathed, but a recurrence of this may cause the jewels to wear out which may result in further issues throughout the mechanism.

A mechanical watch is an ongoing investment; it doesn’t just end when you walk out of the boutique. But it’s an investment that’ll bring you much joy. It’s an investment that’ll bring joy to those around you. It’s an investment that brings you into a community of some of the most intelligent and passionate people around from whom you can learn a great deal. It’s worth it.

Happy collecting,

Leading the World

When, in 1986, mechanical engineer Josef Meissner decided that he wouldn’t be outsourcing or relocating the Schlenker business overseas, he was going against the popular trend. Josef was simply unimpressed, convinced his firm should stay in Germany. While countless other German precision engineering businesses went abroad, Schlenker invested and expanded their manufacturing facility and stayed at home.

Sadly, Josef passed away in 1999 but his wife Inge took over the management of the company, continuing Josef's legacy. Inge expanded the business further, and in 2006 their daughter Britta, a graduate engineer, joined the company. Today, thanks to the mother and daughter leadership, Schlenker is leading the world in precision work-holding technology.

"This is to inform you that 3.17 guide bush for your lathe will be supplied by Schlenker spannwerkzeuge."
This brief message was received yesterday from another German company who is building our lathe and who will soon provide training to Josh and Tyler. I didn't ask how much the bush is going to cost, or how many pieces are to be custom manufactured, or what the guide bush is made of. I am simply following instructions, blindly. What an exciting journey!

For those technically-minded subscribers: the guide bush is custom made and will accept a 316L steel bar of 3.17mm diameter. In other words, our lathe will handle 'raw' material which is already prefabricated to a tolerance of 10 microns and consequently, the guide bush has to be precisely of that size. If this bar is any thinner or thicker, or if the guide bush is out of tolerance, then the bar would either jam or will be too loose to turn.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Buy Back

The core message of the Bloomberg article on the Swiss watch industry was hardly news: Swiss export was declining in every month of 2016. However, what caught me by surprise was this bit: according to the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry, watch manufacturers have bought back USD $1.3 billion worth of stock from their authorized dealers! Clearly, the manufacturers would rather buy back the stock and fill in their storerooms than to tempt dealers to discount. This is a surprising new strategy that will prevent a price drop but it will also further reduce production output. Rest assured that whoever decided to scramble serial numbers (and prevent buyers finding out the manufacturing date) is now regarded as a true industry visionary.

On the contrary, readers’ feedback to Bloomberg's article was less amusing. In essence, general wisdom revolves around two points: a) luxury watches don't sell because millionaires are frugal and b) not only do smart millennials no longer need watches to tell the time, but they are averse of showing off their status by wearing expensive watches. As far as I am concerned, both explanations are equally inaccurate.

While some millionaires are indeed misers and penny-pinchers, the majority of them actually do enjoy their life. The overwhelming majority of millionaires travel business and first class, not economy. Many of them live in luxury homes and love their hobbies, and don't mind spending their hard-earned cash on the things that give them pleasure. However, what makes them stay millionaires is the ability to delay the purchase and completely ignore the 'urge for instant gratification'. Millionaires rarely buy goods at the retail price level and would never pay a premium. They are simply waiting for that very special deal - whether it is a house or their favourite stock, a car or a watch - and are ready to close the deal when it suits them. They also have that very special power: the ability to instantly recognize the true (intrinsic) value of a goods or service and know the difference between value and price.

The myth that youngsters are no longer interested in fine timepieces is equally pathetic. I am yet to see a person - of any age for that matter - who is blasé, indifferent or apathetic once they strap on their wrist a 'live' ticking marvel of mechanical engineering and learn about its history. "I LOVE it" is the most common reaction, and often, that very timepiece becomes the first of many in a journey of sophistication and appreciation. The reason why millennials prefer iPhones to Pateks is that most of them simply have no disposal income and have not yet been enlightened and exposed to the wonderful world of horology. Youngsters have their priorities, and rightly so; education, family, mortgages and travel should always have the priority over investing in depreciating (yet so enjoyable!) assets. I say: give them enough time, and most of them will eventually 'get there'.

I for one am waiting for the Swiss watch treasure chests to fill in, flow over, spill out and to reach the grey market, and then to reach us, the ordinary people.
The sooner the better!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Rebelling Against the Swissness

Nancy Holten, 42, from the Canton of Aargau is a vegan and an animal rights activist.

She has been living in Switzerland since she was 8 years old. She is fluent in Swiss German and her children are Swiss. But Nancy’s application for Swiss citizenship has been rejected more than once.

Her sin: annoying her fellow villagers with her activism. Things like looking out for the wellbeing of animals. Cows wearing heavy cow bells; piglets racing and hunting; annoying church bells. Her outspoken comments in the media have made her “unwanted in the community”, and consequently, the fellow villagers are ‘rejecting’ her naturalization.

A spokesman for the local Government puts it nicely: “…Mrs Holten is rebelling against traditional Swiss values within the village…”.

Ah, bloody rebels…

Monday, January 9, 2017

rebelde in action!

Thanks to comrade Jesper, owner of a rebelde Control Tower Mark II, for sending this awesome photo in of his rebelde altitude test.

The temperature was -17C and he's pointing at Grossglockner, the highest mountain in Austria at 3,798m. He was pleased to report there was no condensation or issues with performance.

Pleased as we are, we're but not a bit surprised. Thanks to its super robust case, the rebelde is one of those rare beasts capable of withstanding extreme temperature changes while remaining fully water resistant, even with the crown pulled out.

Some of you might remember a little experiment with the first assembled rebelde which was frozen for 3 hours, then defrosted, yet which didn't miss a beat. Quite frankly, that was the moment I knew we were onto something here at rebelde HQ.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Free Expertise: Fool's Gold

I am sure that every lawyer on my mailing list would agree with me that self-representation in Court is not the brightest idea. There is that old saying that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. If lawyers use lawyers, what chance would a person like me have to win a court case?

We take it easy on Friday - trying to close the busy and stressful week as peacefully as possible. And so do you. My intention is neither to upset you nor to lecture, but I do have to point out something that for most people is obvious - and yet, for some, not so.

If you have bought a watch from a private seller then you are defining yourself in a court of second-hand dealing. Basically you are saying to yourself - and to the seller - that you are confident enough to conduct the deal; that you are 100% sure that the watch is genuine and you have no doubts in regard to its provenance (and that you are not dealing in stolen goods).
Which is all fine, and yes, in the majority of private deals, the saving justifies the risk.

However, you can't have it both ways: if you are defending yourself in court, you can't just call a lawyer halfway through the trial and ask for a free tip. And if you decide to buy a watch on eBay or Chrono24 then please don't call me either. It's not that I don't want to help - I just can't. I cannot tell whether the watch is genuine or not based on a low-resolution picture.
And quite frankly, no one can.

Buying a year old TAG or Omega watch which comes with the box, papers, receipts and valuation documentation is not that difficult. Such transactions are often straight forward ones.
Parting with cash on a 10 year old watch which comes with no box or papers is a skill. Making the same decision on a 60 year old vintage Rolex is an art form and believe it or not, there are probably no more than a dozen people in Sydney whom you would trust to conduct a deal on your behalf. Vintage watch experts are hard to find!

In my early days I used to deal a bit with a well-known Sydney dealer who would call in from time to time to 'check if I have anything valuable'. It was always interesting to watch him inspecting my stock - to the fine detail. He would take his time with the loupe, inspecting the dial and hands, and even made me disassemble the mechanism just to be sure everything was genuine. He was not a watchmaker himself, so I could tell that his expertise was gained after many years of dealing in watches, trials and errors, and without doubt, he paid the price of self-education. To this day, I respect his attitude - and the way he bought watches taught me that being 'extra careful' is the way to go. I can proudly say that I have never bought a fake Rolex and I hope I'll never will.

When it comes to vintage watches like Patek, it is fair to say that I am only a half-an-expert. Firstly, the Australian Patek market is miniscule and there are simply not enough watches in circulation to learn the finesses of the brand. Secondly, the return on investment is not worth my trouble. I would rather buy 10 Breitling than one Patek. And quite frankly, I don't know of any dealer in Australia who can honestly claim that he is an authority on the subject. To be a true Patek dealer you would have to set up your shop in Tokyo or London, New York or Geneva.

Louis Breguet was the most famous watchmaker of all time. Actually, he was so successful that even during his life, there were 10 fake Breguets for each genuine piece. You can only imagine how difficult it is to authenticate Berguet timepieces now, 200 years after they were created.

Only experts who have devoted their entire life to work of Breguet and who have restored his timepieces could call themselves an authority on the subject – a handful of watchmakers, museum curators and horological historians. And you can be sure that none of them would offer their expert opinion free of charge, based on a poor quality image or an eBay listing.

There are lawyers and lawyers, dealers and dealers - and each to their own.
Horology is enjoyed best when you deal with experts you can trust. And often - especially to someone who is just discovering the beauty of watch ownership - buying a brand new piece from your favourite brand shop is the way to go.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


If you have recently subscribed to my mailing list then allow me to briefly outline what we do and why you should stay with us throughout 2017 and beyond.

The majority of our 7,000+ newsletter subscribers are watch enthusiasts and watch collectors. Some of them are relatively new to horology while others have been around long enough to pile up a decent watch collection.
But what truly matters is not how many watches you have - it is the knowledge of the watches and the excitement of finding that perfect one (or two) that will keep you excited.

My role here is a simple one: I look for that special piece, ensure that it the best example you and I can afford, confirm that it is in decent working order and genuine in all aspects - and then ensure you will receive it exactly as described, in the fastest and most secure time.
In other words - I work for you and get paid by you.

Of course, you may say that I am just another salesman who wants your money. But I have absolutely no doubt that you will soon discover that I am anything but yet another watch dealer.

It happens that I have been into watch repairing since I can remember. Actually, I am a third generation watchmaker, keeping the trade in my family. As if that is not enough, three years ago, to prove a point, I started my own watch brand; rebelde watch is designed and assembled in Sydney which is really something I am very proud of. So when you receive my newsletter, you know it comes from someone who knows his stuff: from a real watchmaker.

But enough about me. Let me go straight into something that is far more important.

What makes my business different than any competitors are these 3 important facts:

1. I only deal in watches I understand
There are countless brands and models out there, available on the preowned market. However, I almost exclusively deal in just a few brands and models. Watches like Rolex Submariner, GMT Master, Omega Moonwatch, Cartier Tank or Breitling Navitimers. These watches I understand. This is the stuff I've been handling for years and I know them inside out. I am not ashamed to admit that I really have no clue about watches like Rolex Skymaster, or anything about Hubolt. Or Oris. Even a brand like Panerai is still a mystery to me. I am completely clueless about many other watches, so I stick with stuff I know. So when you buy a watch form me, you can rest assured that you are dealing with an expert in his field.

2. I sell my own stock (no consignment)
Unlike many of my colleagues, I do not take the watches on consignment. Therefore while my inventory is much smaller than of my competitors, each and every watch is my own piece. I don't work for a third party, I am not paid a commission to sell something which is overpriced or junk, or something I don't believe in. If a particular watch is not good enough for a dealer to put in his own money, then you should stay away from such a piece yourself. It is not the size of a dealer’s inventory that matters - it is the quality and value for money of each individual watch that should matter to you.

3. I love watches which can be locked up for 10 years
When I buy a watch (which is a few times per day) the first question I ask myself is this: if I were to lock this watch up in a bank deposit box for 10 years, would this watch be still a good piece to have in 2027? Would I be able to sell it then, with some profit, and still beat inflation? If I drop dead tonight and my wife was left with my stock, would she be able to sell the entire stock to dealers and still make a small profit? If the answer to these questions is yes, only then am I ready to assess the watch further.

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that the Omega Moonwatch will remain a desirable piece for years to come. The claim to fame to be 'the first watch worn on the moon' is simply one no other competitor can make. Its mechanism - Calibre 1861 - is one of the best and most reliable chronographs, and they don't make it anymore! Likewise, a Rolex Submariner cannot be imitated by Omega, or Patek or any other brand. Ladies Cartier Tank has been around for almost 100 years, outlived all the fashion styles, wars and stock crashes. I would bet my last dollar that as long as Cartier is in the watch business, the Tank will remain their bestselling model.

Yes there are exceptions and trends, and yes, sometimes, I do change my mind on a certain piece, or make a mistake. But overall, if you follow my newsletter then most likely you will not only learn a thing or two about horology but you’ll also have some fun along the way. The worst that could happen is you end up buying a nice pre-loved watch from someone you trust.

Finally, here is the reason why I spend many hours every week composing and sending my newsletter: while I do this for living I clearly understand that for you, horology is only a hobby. I too have a hobby (amateur radio) but unlike you, there is not a single newsletter out there written by an amateur radio expert, which could entertain me and offer me an opportunity to buy that nice vintage radio I have always wanted and dreamed about. If there was, such a daily newsletter would brighten my day. And while I probably wouldn't spend a great deal of money, lusting over the photos and learning more would be the reward in itself. I hope my watch newsletter will do exactly the same for you.

Have a great 2017.
Nick Hacko

P.S. It would be completely misleading not to point out that our apprentice Tyler is a regular contributor to this newsletter with his unique, easily recognizable style. Laura, our head assistant does an excellent job of fixing my errors and is in charge of editing and writing watch descriptions. At times, other junior helpers (remember Ellie?) do chip in for which I remain grateful. Watch photos are taken by whoever is closest to the camera.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


In front of me are three rebelde watches. Freshly assembled, fitted on raw handcrafted straps and ticking quietly, they mark a new chapter of the rebelde project. These very three watches are the final result of a lengthy design process and will be our core ‘product range’ for 2017-2018.

The hard work is done, and as I type this the last dials are being manufactured. All other components are already in stock with assembly to commence shortly. The only remaining thing to be done is this email. For some strange reason, I now have to sell these watches to you by telling you how great, robust and reliable they are, and to convince you that as Australian designed and assembled watches they present excellent value for money.

Unfortunately, I simply can’t. Any marketing attempt feels both unnecessary and meaningless because the watch should sell itself on its own merits. I can’t tell you why you should buy rebelde; this is for you to figure out. If you’re not attracted to the project and the watch, then no amount of words and photos will change your mind. You either want it or you don’t.

The first of three is the rebelde50. Designed in the style of a 1930’s pilots watch, it’s really our flagship model, a watch designed to buck the trend of planned obsolescence in modern products and one that will last for generations with our guarantee that we’ll be here to keep it running for at least 50 years (for free) – a commitment that shows just how serious we are about what we do. We’re not going anywhere.

The second piece is our rebelde pilot’s watch with a chocolate dial. It’s so fresh that we don’t even have a name for it. Fitted in a 44mm stainless steel case, it comes with a swiss rebelde signed movement. This is one of our most wanted models and the good news is that we’ll guarantee the price a price of $2500 for both 2017 and 2018. However, the production run will be smaller than the previous one, limited to 50 pieces only.

The third rebelde is a reissue of our very first Control Tower model featuring the maxi dial. It comes in a 44mm stainless steel case and has a slightly upgraded movement. Again, the price is locked in at $2500 and the production run over the next two years will be limited to 75 pieces.

I do apologise for the low quality images below, but that itself is intentional. If you like what you see on the photo below then you’ll really appreciate the watches in the flesh.

So where do we go from here? Well, we invite you to come visit us and check out the watches in person. If you’re ready to place an order straight away then email us your preferred serial number and we’ll do our best to accommodate any such request. The first pieces will leave the workshop in March 2017, and yes, there will be some wait time, because as with all previous rebelde’s, each and every piece is assembled by me alone.

To all rebelde comrades and comrades to be, I wish you all the very best for 2017 and I remain grateful and humbled by your continued support.

p.s. Nothing breaks my heart more than the news of a stolen rebelde. Over the weekend, rebelde TiB 11/75 has been stolen along with a number of other watches in Melbourne. Please keep an eye out for any rebelde advertised for sale privately and let us know if you hear anything.

Happy collecting,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tool of the Week - Blankenhorn Depth Gauge

***Tool of the Week 

Yesterday a piece of equipment that we’ve long been wanting finally arrived. Many of you are aware of and have seen the optical comparator that’s sitting on our office floor (we’re now close to having a stand for it so that it can be put in the factory), but as advanced as that machine is, it’s only one part of the measuring process. It can measure distances and angles on a 2D plane, but can’t measure depth. The new Blankenhorn Depth Gauge that arrived yesterday allows us to do just that.

The depth gauge is an instrument consisting of two components; a mechanical micrometre dial indicator and the highly polished granite base table which holds both the part and the indicator.

We spent a good part of yesterday testing the machine, measuring all sorts of parts and pieces (human hair included), and were thoroughly impressed by it. It’s easy to use and has both high precision and repeatability. What’s especially interesting is that it’s purely mechanic - like our watches - and yet is capable of micron-level precision greater than many more expensive digital means.

Prior to purchasing the Blankenhorn Depth Gauge, we had been searching for a similar piece for some time, and it was by sheer chance alone that Nick and Josh discovered the brand. When they were visiting the machining fair in Germany just two months ago, Blankenhorn’s small booth was tucked away to the left at the entrance to the fair. They almost walked right by them as did most attendees, but being in no rush and having endeavoured to check out every booth possible, they decided to walk on over.

They based their purchase on first impressions alone, the representatives of the company convincing them of the quality of their products and that several large watch manufacturers, IWC included, use them. Neither Nick or Josh had heard of the company before, nor could they verify the veracity of the representatives’ claims, but Nick decided to take a leap of faith and went ahead regardless.

And he’s glad he did. Our expectations were well and truly exceeded, the depth gauge not only measuring just as it should, but also being extremely well made; something that’s not always a given. It’s clearly built to last. German engineering at its best.

The calibration certificate that came with the gauge was issued from a third party AQRAT calibration laboratory, located in Esslingen in Germany, which is a nice touch. We’ll almost certainly need more measuring equipment as we move into part manufacturing, and we now know where we’ll be looking first.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Peak of Watchmaker Screw Manufacturing

***The Peak of Watchmaker Screw Manufacturing

The shiny tiny bit on the tip of my finger is a very special horological component. It is a screw. But what makes it special is the fact that it is one of the smallest screws in a watch mechanism. It comes from an Omega Flight Master manufactured in the 1970s and here is the curiosity: the screws you find in watches made today are not any better, shinier, more precise or even smaller. Watchmakers have been making such small screws for at least 200 years. And despite all the advances made in manufacturing technology, we reached the peak of screw making many decades ago.

Many visitors to our premises wonder why that big machine is sitting on the floor in the middle of the office. The answer: it’s awaiting its transfer to our newly built workshop. And what it does? Well the optical comparator allows us to see and measure the exact dimensions of even the smallest components like the above mentioned screw. And in laymen’s terms this screw is just over half a millimetre thick (or precisely, 600 microns), with the thread pitch of just 0.2mm. This 'piece of knowledge' is the very starting point in designing our own screws. Before we can draw and construct we must master the skill of taking precision measurements. And the beauty of our big machine is it can measure dimensions 10 times more precisely than we can even read.

The above screw as seen under the comparator. 

The CAD drawing of the same screw.

What an exciting journey!

Note from Laura, Nick's assistant: when I first saw the screw I didn’t even believe that it was a screw. It was explained to me that the purpose of it is to hold a tension spring attached to a barrel which also holds a small gear in a chrono-hour counter train. And here is the photo of the actual assembly showing two of those tiny screws doing their job.