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In a report in the Guardian (UK) by Astrid Wendlandt and Katie Reid, Swatch is seemingly making good on its threats on ending its supply of its ETA ebauches (movement kits) to other Swiss brands. ETA is a conglomerate of companies that makes movement kits to be sold to brands who are unable to have the capacity to build or make their own movements to the volume required that is economically feasible.
For years it had been threatening to cut its supply and this time round, its reported that its motivated by the fact that brands are spending millions on glamorous ad campaigns rather than in research and development of the watchmaking craft. Swatch delivers the ETA movements to 80% of the Swiss watch brands.
An example of how problematic and poor is the Swiss is at putting their priority right is where the report adds that Tag Heuer recently admitted that it had to buy the intellectual property of their first in house movement from the Japanese - Seiko Instruments - than to have it developed internally.
In the event that Swatch makes good in enforcing its plans to stop delivery of the ETA ebauches (forget for the moment that it may end up facing court proceedings for being anti-competitive), there are concerns that the Swiss brands will resort to sourcing its movements from East Asia - Japan and/or China. The concern is the start of the unraveling of the ball of twine that holds the Swiss watch industry together - the claim to being "SWISS MADE".
So it seems that together with the dampened demand due to the recent financial crisis, the ever growing success and threat of counterfeit (replica) watches and now the impending stoppage of important ebauche movements to smaller brands, the Swiss watch industry is heading for somewhat of a critical stage of horological history. Will it end up losing its hallowed status where Swiss Made means something special - or it will survive this period by returning to its roots of making honest watches with good watchmaking craft and not with marketing pretence and grandiose ad campaigns.
I hope Hayek (CEO of Swatch) will succeed in his effort to bring sense back to the Swiss watch industry.
To read the Guardian Article - CLICK HERE.
Check out the new images of my Panerai and Rolex for


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Daniel Roth - one of the respected watch houses of Switzerland was acquired together with Gerald Genta (a brand that carries the name of its famous founder - who has since moved on to other brands) by the fashion house Bulgari. In what appears to industry watchers as a move to bring greater credibility in horology to Bulgari, the fashion house will take control of the hardware resources including watch making and service equipment. While Bulgari has started absorbing much of the DR & GG operations into its watch arm - it appears that the DR & GG name will continue on albeit under the brand name of Bulgari. New watches from the DR or GG will show its name in smaller font size under Bulgari on the dials.
Its disappointing and disheartening to see the end of two renowned brands but one cannot be totally surprised for reasons of how the financial crisis has hit many brands. I hope Bulgari will continue to build on the horological success of the two brands and not neglect them in any way.
- HT
Check out my Panerai and Rolex for SALE HERE.


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Counterfeit or "copy watches" were made and sold for some decades now and despite all the enforcement efforts by the brands, there seem to be no effective way of stopping the growing sales of these items. The continued growth is probably due to cheaper and ever increasing quality of the fakes. This apparently has hurt the Swiss watch industry enough for them to launch a campaign - almost a year ago - See this Post. Clearly this campaign was targeted at the buyers to work in conjunction with their legal efforts to bring down the factories of pirates.

Yet, for all the efforts of the Swiss watch industry, what is still a big surprise is how little headway or at least evidence of their efforts to bring to court those who peddle the counterfeit watches on the Internet. All one has to do is to google "Replica Watches" and the sites number in many thousands. I chanced on a site that inspired this post - had an oxymoron sub-header "Genuine Copy". Although my initial reaction was uncontrolled laughter, I realised quickly, it was no laughing matter.

If there were any part of the chain of the counterfeit trade that damages brands the most, its the counterfeit retailer. The counterfeit trader uses the trade name and designs of the original to ply their business. These online businesses are no longer the proverbial back street peddlers. They run slick online e-commerce solutions with complete selection of models and pricing. Ironically, most of them are based in the US.

Such online activity dilutes the trademark or the goodwill associated with it. But to me what is most damaging is that they are able to continue to do so with no apparent concern about the rights of the trademark owners.

As a consumer and a watch collector, I find this open and public pirating of counterfeit goods quite disturbing. Are the brands interested in protecting their brand name online? Are there real efforts in enforcing the legal rights against such retailers?


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Erwin Satler, the German clock maker recently showcased its works at its local authorised dealer's new premises at Ion Orchard. The Timeless Gallery located on the fourth floor of the mall, retails several brands of clocks including Burben & Zorweg and Dottling winders and safes. The most interesting offering to me was a matching pair of identical clock and wristwatch shown here. Both featuring dead seconds. While this matching pair is priced considerably high, the Germanic quality is self evident and those looking for continuity in how they read the time, this understated dials will be quite handsome on the wrist and in the living room hall.


Check out the watches being sold at the For Sale page.
CLICK HERE to view.


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This watch had been in my "Top 10 Wish List" for some time and finding one in absolute mint condition was a great pay off for the years of patience. A watch that is an amazing illusion. Its as thick as the current Portuguese Automatic 7 Day Calibre 5001 - yet it looks thinner on the wrist. The almost non existent bezel makes the watch looks much bigger than its 40mm. Launched in the year 2000 with only a limited number of 750 (for rose gold), it was a limited success back then but in time, it found its way into collections of serious horologists.
The original Cal 5000 is considered by many as IWC's most important calibre as it represented the company's direction into producing and refining the world's largest automatic 7 day movement. Yet this watch has a great old school feel to it. A wrist watch that has an old world pocket watch movement.
It was a joy to finally photograph this watch and for fans, download the desktop wallpaper. As always, the condition for downloading and use is to honour my copyrights and not alter, distribute, sell or give away copies of the image - or use it in any way other than as a desktop wallpaper.
- HT
Check Out the Watches on Sale Here - CLICK HERE


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There are 750 of these rose gold watches floating around globally, in safes or on wrists of collectors. Any guess of the mathematical probability of the chance of two absolutely minty pieces available and sold in Singapore in a span of 5 days - to a pair of collector friends?
While the Portuguese 2000 is not the grail watch to most collectors, it remains highly desirable to the growing number of IWC Portuguese collectors for its overall presence. While it has not enjoyed the same level of fame as the Portuguese Jubilee, its technical significance cannot be challenged. Being the most important new calibre of the new millennium for IWC - developed in conjunction with several top watchmakers led by the genius of Gunther Blumlien. It may be Portuguese in name but its very German in nature.
If one just looks at the watch clinically by itself on a table or even side by side with other watches including the current Portuguese Auto, the watch somehow does not have any dynamic qualities. Yet when its on the wrist, somehow something happens. It exudes something inexplicable. The austere dial, balance of the two sub dials, the pale cream dial work with gold arabic markers and wonderfully huge hands - together with its curved hexalite crystal - all comes to life by just being on the wrist.
I believe its the design symmetry and balance together with beautiful combination of rose gold case with a pale off white dial and particularly the recognisable arabic markers and sword hands that makes this watch sing.
Now, if only we can get the IWC board to bring back the full Italic print of "International Watch Co"

Click on the images above to view them in higher resolution.


Check out the watches being sold at the For Sale page.
CLICK HERE to view.


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It is unfortunate that my priority of responsibilities over the past three months had to result in the intermittent and reduced frequency of posts. I even missed my annual review of the events in the start of each year. I sorely missed that but hopefully it will be made up as the weeks ahead we have quite a few things to look forward to.

SIHH just ended a couple of weeks ago and it seems the industry is determined to pull itself out of the doldrums of 2009 poor showing of novelties. Several smaller watch houses and parts suppliers had to meet their end due to financial difficulties and some renowned brands had lost respected leaders due to market demands. Then there are brands that had clearly changed leadership to realign their future plans. But its clear to me that the industry is realising the tangible change of how market has moved due to the impact of financial crisis to various markets around the world. Gone or at least on the way out are the days of exuberant and over designed watches. Classical designs (see latest offerings from Zenith) and austerity is returning.

I did predict last year that industry will start to return to the joys of producing thinner watches and the return to sanity of case sizes around 40mm. No other watch stands out for me than IWC Portuguese handwound classics that was showcased at SIHH (although the Zenith came close).

Was 2009 the year for bargains for pre-owned watches as I had predicted? It may not have been in retrospect a deluge of bargains but there were certainly a few very fine and desirable pieces going for prices below market in 2008. All the more were pieces seen that were not commonly seen in trading forums.

Reading my tea leaves - I doubt that the main industry players will change their modus operandi and will continue to do what they believedd to be successful strategy over the past 8 years. There is yet to be a real price correction of the watches coming to market and this is where it gets interesting. It will be the new collectors and the noveau riche that will find themselves clamouring for watches that cost 30% more than 5 years ago for similar models. The experienced and avid collectors who had been around will continue to find it harder and harder to buy new pieces today - going by what they know of the watches and the prices they sold a few years ago (see my next post on the rare sale of two mint Portuguese 2000 Limited Edition Rose Gold).

Whether the brands or collectors wish to be honest about it, the initiative has moved to East Asia and Russia where the new money pouring into luxury goods has drawn almost all the attention of suppliers away from the previously respected enclaves of strong collectors. Watches will be designed and priced for these markets. All the more, collectors will refocus and see the value to acquire good condition preowned pieces.

SIHH 2010 had been overall been a positive surprise for the industry watchers. I wonder if Baselworld will have the same impact.


Welcome to
Watching Horology


  • This is a personal blog of Harry SK Tan on all things pertaining to Horology - from watch collecting, horolography, news and developments from all over the world particularly Singapore.
  • ©HarrySKTan2005

Horolography - noun, the art of photographing timepieces

Horolographer - Harry SK Tan

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