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Cornelis Drebbel: the magician of the 17th century
by admin


Duikboot Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel was born in 1572 in Alkmaar (NL), in a well-to-do family of land owners. Drebbel’s education was elementary, only later in life he learned Latin, but Hendrick Goltzius, famous for his engravings but also capable in chemistry, teached him a lot. Drebbel moved in with Goltzius in Haarlem to become his assistent and later he married a younger sister of Goltzius. As early as 1598 Drebbel got a patent for a pump and a clock with perpetual motion.
From 1605 till 1610 he stayed in the Court of King James I in London. Here Drebbel really blosomed as an inventor, in the years 1608 and 1609 he was busy perfecting a magic lantarn and a clavichord. His fame started to spread all over Europe and the next three years Drebbel lived in Bohemia.

Under the wings of ruler Rudolf II in Prague Drebbel focused mainly on his perpetuum mobile, alchemy and the production of gold alloys for the German mint. The period in Prague ended with a lot of turmoil and Drebbel was even thrown into prison.

After his release Drebbel fled to London where he would stay until his death in 1633. Here his main point of focus was building his submarine but, as illustrated by his visit to Middelburg in 1620, he was also interested in optical instruments. In 1621 Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687) visited London and between January 23 and April 30 he had a number of brief meetings with Drebbel. Huygens says the following about these visits:
“I saw Drebbel also for a short time. In appearance he is a Dutch farmer, but his learned talk is reminiscent of the sages of Samos and Sicily. I wished to profit by your company for a longer time, great grey
beard, but the brevity of the time stood in my way, and against my will you are postponed for a another year.”
In the period from 1626 till 1629 Drebbel worked for the British Navy. mainly because of his submarine (the Navy saw opportunities for the vessel in war time) but also because of the water mines he produced. Unfortunately his period with the Navy ended because of conflicting thoughts about the value of his inventions.
Drebbel didn’t end his life as a rich man. The last four years of his life he was a brewer and owner of an inn below London Bridge. He used his invention of staying under water for a significant time to attract people to come to his inn and drink his beer.

An overview of the inventions by Cornelis Drebbel shows the following:
- Perpetuum mobile: a sort of air thermometer that worked with a certain volume of gas that variated with temperature and pressure. This is the most famous invention by Drebbel and it is interesting to see that the apparatus shows up in a whole lot of paintings from that period. In his autobiography from about 1630 Constantijn Huygens (who is of course the father of Christiaan Huygens) writes the following about Drebbel’s perpetuum mobile:
“The perpetuum mobile, which I know only from the drawing of it is so cleverly constructed, that no one, as far as I am aware, has been able to discover the hidden causes at work not even after it was broken. In a glass
spiral is a liquid, which reproduces the ebb and flow of the sea repeatedly (a thing I cannot believe), which certainly is brought about by self initiated motion back and forth and which enthrals experienced persons as much as inexperienced ones by its extraordinary continuance. I suppose it is something of the same sort as that, which now no longer astonishes us, where in a similar glass the enclosed liquid enables us to judge of the temperature of the day by the instability or mobility of the liquid. It is quite certain that the water is forced to rise to fill the empty space, when the air is pressed together by the surrounding cold and that the water is pressed down again and is chased away, as if by the ebbing of the tide, when the air expands by warmth.”
- Ovens and furnaces: Drebbel was very good at building these kind of contraptions. He even built a furnace of which the temperature could be held at the desired level.
- Automatic musical instruments
- Hydraulic inventions: as early as 1598 Drebbel obtained a patent for a construction that was equal to our system of water ducts and which could pump drinking water from different depths according to the need.
- Telescopes and microscopes: It is not for certain but a lot of people see Drebbel as the first person to build a microscope. Drebbel did a lot to spread the word all over Western and Southern Europe and even Galileo knew about his invention. Christiaan Huygens spoke with praise about Drebbel’s microscope. Drebbel was a brilliant glassblower.
- Submarine and oxygen: In 1620 Drebbel built a submarine for the English King. The vessel contained 24 people, 8 of which were rowers, navigated a couple of miles below the water level in the Thames, could change it’s depth, kept it’s course with a compass and could stay in the water for 24 hours without running out of oxygen. Drebbel had made a thorough study of oxygen and several papers claim that he produced oxygen by heating salpetre.
- Production of explosives
- Colouring of fabrics: Drebbel invented a method to colour fabrics with scarlet red by using a tin salt. This colour already existed but Drebbel’s red was much more powerful and intense.

Cornelis Drebbel and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Atmos clock

cb perpetuum mobile
Perpetuum mobile by Cornelis Drebbel, H.M. Hiesserle von Chodau, 1612

cd Atmos-Hermès_front-769x1024
cd Atmos-Hermès_profil-769x1024
Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos Hermes

Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos classic

With his invention of the perpetuum mobile Drebbel made the base principle for the Atmos clock manufactured by Jaeger-LeCoultre three centuries later. Through the years more of these objects were fabricated, Leonardo da Vinci also worked on a perpetuum mobile, but it took until the 20th century before the principle could be turned into a working clock.
In 1927 French engineer Jean-Leon Reutter developed the first Atmos clock, which is now called the Atmos 0. His clocks were driven by a “mercury in glass” expansion device which rotated a cylinder which wound the mainspring by ratchet. The mechanism operates on temperature change only. The clocks are slightly different to the later Atmos models in minor details of escapement. A temperature difference of one grade between 15 and 30 grades Celsius is enough to keep the clock running for 48 hours. To be able to turn these very small amounts of energy into movement the Atmos clock has completely different numbers than a regulair pendulum clock. The balance only makes two torsional oscillations per minute, 150 times slower than the pendulum of a standard clock. To put the amount of energy that an Atmos clock uses further into perspective the following comparison: 60 million Atmos clocks together don’t use more energy than a light bulb of 15 Watt.
In the history of the Atmos clock two things catch our attention. On June 1 1929 the Compagnie generale de radio (CGR) created a department for the production and sales of the Atmos, managed by Reutter. In september 1932 LeCoultre made a deal with CGR for the supply of movements, mid 1933 the so called 30″ A calibers were delivered. On July 27 1935 LeCoultre took over the whole production. Another interesting fact is that LeCoultre, after taking over in 1935, kept producing the Atmos I but at the same time was busy with the development of Atmos II. Biggest change was the replacement of the ammonia and lead ´bellows´ with an ethyl chloride canister.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos clock continues to be a fantastic phenomenon that is rightly given to all the important guests that visit Switzerland.

As a conclusion we can say that Cornelis Drebbel is one of the most gifted persons in Dutch history. Everyone of his inventions are brilliant in itself but it is hard to imagine that the whole list comes from one man. Luckily recently remnants of his house have been found in Alkmaar so that we still have a tangible piece of Cornelis Drebbel left.

Jaap Bakker

June 23rd



Jacques Brauer: art in scale 1/43
by admin

The Frenchman Jacques Brauer fabricates breathtaking models of cars in scale 1/43. By many he is seen as the very best in this line of work. The following pictures of his 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO show you why:

JB 1962 250 GTO carrosserie rood buizenframe
JB 1962 250 GTO carrosserie rood kaal
JB 1962 250 GTO carrosserie rood volledig chassis
JB 1962 250 GTO carrosserie rood volledig
JB 1962 250 GTO Ecurie Franchorchamps

Since young age Brauer has a passion for painting and cars.

JB waterverfschilderijen
Watercolour painting, 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, Jacques Brauer, 50cm x 65cm

JB olie op canvas Mercedes in Monaco 1937, 184cm x 148cm
Oil on canvas, Mercedes in Monaco 1937, Jacques Brauer, 184cm x 148cm

Brauer was educated at the School of Fine Arts in Reims and developed himself into an artist with racing cars as his favourite theme. He painted and made drawings but he felt limited in his creative options because he missed a third dimension to express himself. Realizing this, Brauer, at the age of 27, switched to building model cars.
As part of this article I have had a Q&A with Jacques Brauer about his background and his work. Next are the questions and answers by Brauer:

- What role did cars and drawing/painting play in your youth? Do you come from a creative family or were you an exception?
- I read that you missed a third dimension in drawing/painting. Did you immediately know that you wanted to build miniature cars or were there other options as well?
- Have you ever considered building watches like your friend Laurent Ferrier?
- Did you teach yourself what materials and techniques you need to build your cars or did you also get some sort of training?
- What is the most exceptional miniature car that you have ever built? Do you have a favourite model?
- What is your favourite 1/1 car?
- What kind of work would you be doing if you weren’t building model cars?

- I have been concern by race cars as long as can remember… very young boy, I receive a special price
for race cars drawings when 5 years old…
I am from a musician family ( mother) and industry( father). Nothing especially creativ but truly inspired
with life and things aound.

-I have started with fine art painting in the early 70′s, essentially race cars and old sports cars subject.
I decide to explore “little cars” at the end of the 70′s, starting with a Ferrari GTO, based on a kit ( metal)
but the model as proposed was definitely not enought for me, then, I start to open doors and other
parts and have to study an engine and engine bay details.
From the beginning I have been facinated by “little cars” the following story is just “how to do it as close
as possible to the real thing” including materials, like wood, leather, textile and so on.
-I have study technical approach and tools and materials myself… no school… .
My favorite car… a lot, but the Aston DB2/4 mk3 is probably the one ( vantage spec.)

- I never expect doing another job, and will do it as long as possible! ( all my life time).

Hope the reply is right for you!

Kind regards,


PS watch making is a specific job who need to learn the right skill, too difficult for me!

JB Ferrari 330 GT 2 + 2
1967 Ferrari 330 GTC

A good illustration of the way Brauer works is the production process of a wooden Nardi steering wheel for his models.

JB 62 GTO straat los stuurwiel en koperen stuurinrichting
JB houten stuur Nardi
Wooden Nardi steering wheel

To create a steering wheel, he needs a piece of pear wood and a self-made tool (an old file that he has sharpened to the utmost). He then uses a special glue which is applied by infiltration in order to saturate the wooden fibres so as to avoid the piece of wood breaking while he is working with it. He cuts out a small circle with his file and then applies himself to ensuring that it is perfectly round using sandpaper. For the inside of the steering wheel, he cuts out a piece of nickel silver which he then sticks to the centre of the wooden circle.

JB onderdelen houten stuur
Parts for a wooden steering wheel

For logos and the little letters composing the brand names, he uses photo-cutouts which he systematically re-polishes using a felt buffing wheel. This requires very careful, thorough work as he is dealing with elements that are no more than around 0.15mm thick.
The artist has successfully reproduced all the elements of the real car to a scale of 1:43. The bonnet, doors and boot open, and the engine is a perfect reproduction in every respect. Each mechanical piece is a true replica complete with air filters, spark plugs, and oil filter cartridges. The structure is made of brass wires assembled with a tin soldering iron. There is a technical link with watchmaking with regard to the production of functional suspension elements, the steering gear (steering is driven from the wheel). The door locks involve the same approach to extreme miniaturisation!
Leather is used throughout the interior, in the original colours. The dashboard features all the dials and the steering wheel features a varnished wooden rim. Every single shape and proportion is scrupulously respected.

“My principal concern can be summed up as follows: respect for spirit and form.”

One of the interesting things of Brauer’s models is that certain aspects of the miniature have clear, technical links to making watches.

JB onderdelen California Spyder

These links are clearly found in for instance the production of functional parts of the suspension, the steering system (the steering wheel turns the front wheels) and the complex construction of the door locks.

JB deurslot
Parts of a door lock

jb Laurent Ferrier Classic
Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic (tourbillon)

Watch manufacturer Laurent Ferrier and Jacques Brauer met at the beginning of the 1980s at a time when both were involved in the world of motor racing. Laurent has unremittingly admired and kept up with Jacques Brauer’s work ever since. For Laurent, the work of a sculptor-miniaturist is closely akin to his own, with regard to design as well as the process of creating a given piece. They share the same approach to the new project, for which Jacques Brauer creates the prototypes – sometimes in wax – in exactly the same way as Laurent Ferrier does when making his models. “That is in fact the aspect that is most like my profession. It is a kind of horology, more artistic but in many way similar. It’s another form of gentle madness.” Laurent Ferrier Laurent Ferrier describes J. Brauer’s work as exceptional.

He is fortunate to be in direct contact with collectors who ask him for models of dream cars. He quotes them: “I want the very best you can do.” It is the same concern that leads collectors to gravitate towards Laurent Ferrier pieces. Like Jacques Brauer, Laurent Ferrier tailors his work to the needs of his client, notably through the creation of one-of-a-kind models.

His work is completely tailored to his clients’ needs. Certain collectors want replicas of their vintage cars. He also says with a degree of amusement that he sometimes has to repair these models because some of his collectors play with them! The lead time for making a piece varies between 8 and 12 months. He estimates that his work involves between 300 and 700 hours per model depending on the level of detail required. It takes him hundreds of hours of work just to develop the first prototypes. Every stage of the production process is photographed in order to share the project’s progress with his client as well as to justify certain elements, which, once the piece is finished, will no longer be visible from the outside. In Laurent Ferrier’s opinion, it takes passion and talent to achieve results like these.

JB tekening model
Notes and drawings prototype

Because pictures say more than a 1000 words some more to show the pieces of art that genius Jacques Brauer produces:

JB 54 375 MM
JB 62 GTO race straat
JB 70 365 GT 2 + 2
JB beginfase 62 GTO
JB body California Spyder kaal
JB California Spyder met hardtop
JB diverse modellen
JB in atelier
JB interieur California Spyder
JB onderdelen 64 Ferrari 250 GTO
JB 62 GTO straat carrosserie chassis kaal

The ‘Red Baron’ and his Fokker Dr.I: inspiration for Zenith
by admin

When Manfred von Richthofen, nick-named the ‘Red Baron’, was shot down and killed on April 21 1918 near Amiens he officially had 80 victories in air combat

In this portrait the Red Baron is wearing the ‘Pour le Merite’, the ‘Blue Max’, the highest Pruisian military decoration

Although the Red Baron gained his victories in several airplanes it is the Fokker Dr.I that is most associated with this air hero.

Fokker Dr.I Red Baron

Zenith has been involved in flying for a long time. At the beginning of the 20th century they manufactured the so-called ‘montres d’aeronef’ or ‘onboard watches’. In the picture below is an example from 1938.

1938 Zenith_Historical_Montre-d-Aeronef-Type-20-560

At Baselworld 2013 Zenith introduced the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT Red Baron, in a limited edition of 500 pieces.


But, before we turn to the Zenith, let’s take a closer look at who Manfred von Richthofen was and the role of Anthony Fokker in this whole story.

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was born in Kleinburg on May 2 1892 in a aristocratic Pruisian family. His military career started in the cavalery but soon his regiment had no real use anymore and only tasks far behind the front remained. Von Richthofen became disappointed and bored because he wanted to see action. He applied for ‘Die Fliegertruppen des Deutschen Kaiserreiches’ (later called the ‘Luftstreitkrafte’) and in his application among other things he wrote: “I have not gone to war in order to collect cheese and eggs, but for another purpose.” Despite this rather unmilitary approach Von Richthofen was offered a job, much to his surprise, and he started in the airforce at the end of May 1915.

Red Baron 1916 in an Albatros
The Red Baron in 1916 in an Albatros

As it often is with people who turn out to be a genius, they are slow starters and Von Richthofen’s career as a pilot was no different from this. He even seemed to be a below average pilot: he struggled with the control over his plane and he even crashed on his first solo flight. But the following quote by Von Richthofen showed that he had what it takes: “I had been told the name of the place to which we were to fly and I was to direct the pilot. At first we flew straight ahead, then the pilot turned to the right, then left. I had lost all sense of direction over our own aerodrome!…I didn’t care a bit where I was, and when the pilot thought it was time to go down, I was disappointed. Already I was counting down the hours to the time we could start again…”

In August 1916 Oswald Boelcke selected Von Richthofen as one of the first pilots for a new fighter unit named Jagdstaffel 2 or Jasta 2. The Red Baron won his first air combat with Jasta 2 on September 17 1916 over Cambrai in France. Although the Red Baron flew several types of aircraft, among them several models of the Albatros and the Halberstadt D.II, the airplane he is most associated with is the Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker.

Anthony Fokker in 1912

Anton Herman Gerard ´Anthony´Fokker was born on April 6 1890 in Kediri in the former Dutch-Indies. His father had a coffee plantation but when Anthony was 4 years old the family moved to Haarlem in the Netherlands to give the children, Toos and Anthony, a Dutch upbringing. Anthony was not what you would call a driven student, he didn’t finish his high school, but he had always been very interested in technique and enjoyed building things like model trains, steam wagons and model airplane.

Fokker’s first serious interest in flying was feeded by the show flights by Wilbur Wright in the summer and autumn 1908 in France. In 1910 his father sent the then 20 year old Fokker to Germany to be trained as a car mechanic at the Bingen Technical School but Fokker made a quick switch to the air division. In the same year he built his first airplane called ‘de Spin’ (the spider). Fokker got his flying license in the second Spin and with the third version he became world famous in Holland by flying around the clocktower of the Sint-Bavokerk in Haarlem on August 31 1911.

Anthony Fokker in the first version of ‘de Spin’

In 1912 Fokker moved to Johannisthal near Berlin where he started his first company, Fokker Aeroplanbau. Later he went to Schwerin where the factory got a new name: Fokker Flugzeugwerke GmbH (later called: Fokker Werke GmbH). After the war the Treaty of Versailles banned Germany to produce airplanes or their engines. This made Fokker come back to Holland in 1919 to start a new factory, the Nederlandse Vliegtuigenfabriek. This was the forerunner of the Fokker Aircraft Company. Despite the restrictions of the Treaty Fokker succeeded in smuggling 220 airplanes, 400 engines and many spare parts from Germany to Holland; according to Fokker he had paid 20.000 Dutch Guilders in bribes.Soon the focus shifted from military to civil aircraft, like for instance the very successful Fokker F.VII trimotor. Sadly Fokker went bankrupt on January 22 1996, several divisions were taken over by Stork.

Zenith & Fokker Red Baron

The Zenith Aeronef Red Baron has an in-house built, non-El Primero (only in chronographs) movement, the Elite class caliber 693 beating at 28,800 bph (4Hz) and with a power reserve of 50 hours.

Zenith kaliber 693

The steel case of the Red Baron , diameter 48mm, has a black DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating and the GMT indicators, both on the dial and the central GMT hand, are bright red just like the famous Fokker Dr.I Triplane which the Red Baron flew. On the solid steel case back is a medaillon with an image of the Red Baron’s Triplane and the text: ‘Montre d’Aeronef Type 20-Zenith Flying Instruments’. Production of the Zenith Red Baron is limited to 500 pieces.


Jaap Bakker

February 2nd

Non-Rolex watches


The Calligraph Duneshore: a microbrand watch that stands out
by admin

Logo VWC


Some time ago by pure coincidence I came across an article about Visitor Watch Co., a new American microbrand. It’s founder, Phil Rodenbeck, is an engineer who used to work in the automotive and gasturbine industries. In 2013 he decided that he wanted to earn his money with something more creative and started Visitor Watch Co.
This interesting background story and a picture of the watch sent me right to the website of Visitor. Two things happened then: first, their site is very professional and beautiful and second, surrounding ads opened a whole new world of microbrands for me. Compared to other microbrands the Visitor Calligraph Duneshore really stands out in the crowd. The case is beautiful and highly original as it’s inspired by sand dunes. The driving force behind the watch is a Miyota 9015, not just taken from the shelf but with a subtle enginered rotor. And the story goes on: it has a sandwich dial with small holes for the minutes and even the date is treated with Luminova. Finally it’s price, 650 US Dollars, makes the Calligraph Duneshore a really amazing watch.

The following article is written by Phil Rodenbeck, founder and CEO Visitor Watch Co.:

Earlier this year, new American microbrand, Visitor Watch Co., debuted their first wristwatch, the Calligraph Duneshore. If you pay close attention to the ever-growing microbrand segment, you may already be managing your expectations on what’s to follow. No doubt this must be another minimalist, quartz-driven piece, or some cheap derivation of a popular Rolex/Panerai/Omega with no originality of its own, right? Well, I will forgive your jadedness (as many such pieces do exist) but in this case, you’d be wrong. The Duneshore is as original as they come.


Inspired by sand dunes, the case of the Duneshore is really like nothing else. It looks a little bit sculptural, organic, beautiful and brutal all at once. The draping sides of the case are abruptly faceted into a cushion shape. In the center, a circular bezel emerges, housing the unique dial and hands. The lugs fall away from the case, coming to a rolled end which is also pierced for easy strap changes.



Turning the watch over, you’ll find a curved caseback, complete with a flush-mounted exhibition crystal. For those among you who appreciate machining, it’s certainly worth noting how the caseback achieves a sweeping, surface transition both with the midcase and the exhibition crystal. Even in watches costing several times this amount, you’re far more likely to see planar transitions between these components. Not that it’s bad to have a more simplistic structure; rather, it’s reflective of the ‘no compromises’ approach that was taken with the Duneshore’s design. It’s also reflective of the incredible value this piece represents. For 650 USD, I’m not sure there’s a more exquisite case available.



Compromise certainly was not made with the dial, either, as one look at the perforated minutes index should confirm. Yes, that’s right, this is actually a 2-piece sandwich-dial, though the only element which makes use of this construction are the minute marks. These could have been easily printed on a 1-piece dial and looked just fine. For the price, I wouldn’t have complained. But done in a perforated style as they are adds to the premium feel.



Polished and lumed hour markers are further applied atop the sandwich dial. Luminant has also been generously applied, showing up on the hands, hours, minutes, dial signature, and date. The lumed date is a particularly nice touch and helps differentiate the Duneshore from the horde of other microbrands using Miyota 9015s. It’s a common movement, but I don’t know of anyone else who goes to the trouble of fitting a custom rotor and a custom black date disk with lumed numerals. Visitor has taken great care with the fine details of their first watch.



The Duneshore is launching in three color variations – Beach, Blue Slate, and Forest Ore – each of which can be ordered with a variety of straps. If you’d like one for yourself, head over to www.visitorwatchco.com and pre-order through their web store. Granted, you are going to have to wait a bit for the estimated August delivery, but for a watch this different I think it is well worth the extra anticipation. Visitor is only making 300 Duneshores in their initial production run, most of which have been spoken for. It is unclear how readily available these will be after the first run is sold out. Many microbrands engage in this sort of small-batch production and it often seems like a year or two passes between production runs. Bottom line: the Duneshore is a wonderfully unique and beautiful piece and if you find yourself fond of it, I wouldn’t wait too long to put in an order.







Jaap Bakker

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January 20th

Non-Rolex watches

Order a Domino’s Pizza, earn a Rolex
by admin

Of course you shouldn’t take the title of this article literally but it is a fact that Domino’s Pizza (DP) rewarded her managers who had the best results during a four week period with a Rolex Air-King which had the DP logo on the dial. This ‘Rolex Challenge’ took place between the 1970s and 1990s.

rolex dominos pizza logo
A detailed picture of the DP logo on the Air-King dial. The black, circled ‘R’ means that the logo is a registered trademark

Several versions of the Air-Kings with the DP logo have been issued over the years. During the last five to ten years the DP logo was on the bracelet of the watch, at the ’6′ hour position.

RDP dial logo recht
RDP logo gekanteld
RDP logo zw
RDP logo bracelet
RDP logo back

With all respect to Domino’s Pizza, it is still a mystery why Rolex made the deal to produce a special version of the Air-King for a company like this.
For instance, a deal with Mercedes-Benz would make far more sense and it’s no surprise that several jewellers had their name on the dial. What makes the whole case even more interesting is the fact that Rolex even produced the dials with the DP logo. A jeweller like Tiffany & Co had to put their name on the dial by themselves.


The Rolex history is filled with watches with a company logo on the dial. Coca-Cola, Anheuser Busch, Tide and Honda are examples of the variety of companies that have rewarded their staff with Rolex watches.
When keeping in mind what status Rolex has and the whole aura surrounding the brand all these company logos on the dials look odd and make the watch look cheap. Hopefully future company watches will only have an inscription on the back.

coca cola logo dial
honda logo dial rolex awesome
Rolex Anheuser-Busch Logo 16233 datejust
rolex logo dial TIDE

List of Rolex watches with a company logo

Article Rolex with company logos

Jaap Bakker

December 27th


Blake welted Scarpe di Bianco monk straps: a timeless experience
by admin


sb:model sb869 monk
Model SB869 monk strap

In 2009 William White, together with an old colleague from Sutor Mantellassi, founded the shoe brand Scarpe di Bianco. ‘Scarpe’ is Italian for shoes and ‘Bianco’ the name of the founder.
In their workshop near Naples the artisans of Scarpe fabricate a maximum of 25 pairs of shoes because everything is done by hand, including the colouring of the different kinds of leather. Among the famous models of shoes by Scarpe di Bianco are the Brogue, the Monk Strap and the Loafer.

sb:model sb750 brogue
Model SB750 Brogue

sb:model sb831 monk
Model SB831 Monk

sb:model sb145 loafers+sky blue pants
Model SB145 Loafers

All models are made using one of the following constructions:
Black Rapid, Goodyear, Norwegian, Blake and Bologna (constructed with rubber for flexibility and comfort).

sb:blake construction
Blake construction

sb:Goodyear construction
Goodyear construction

sb:norwegian construction
Norwegian construction

sb:cons Blake
Blake construction is a very popular construction used for better made shoes, especially in Italy. This construction is simpler than a welted construction. A single row of stitching attaches the insole to the upper and the outsole. The stitching is located inside the shoe and done by a machine invented by Reed Blake. The technique is sometimes called McKay construction since Blake sold the patent to Gordon McKay.

Shoes with Blake construction tend to be more flexible than Goodyear welted shoes since they have fewer layers but since there is a row of stitching through the insole the possibility of moisture wicking from the ground is greater.

Contrary to popular belief Blake shoes can be resoled with the use of a Blake soling machine.

sb:cons Goodyear
Goodyear construction is a welted construction. A rib is created perpendicular to the face of the insole through which twine is stitched. After both the upper and insole are secured to the last, the welt (a third strip of leather) is sewn to the upper and the rib of the insole. A lockstitch is used so that if one stitch comes undone all the stitching does not become unbraided. A second row of stitching is used to connect the other side of the welt to the outsole. The benefits of the Goodyear welted construction are that they are more water-resistant than Blake construction since there are no stitches through the face of the insole. Additionally, a layer of cork fills the space between the ribs on the two sides of the insole. This layer of cork molds to the wearer’s foot and adds comfort to the shoe.

Goodyear welted construction is a favorite of many of the better English shoemakers. Many consumers like the Goodyear construction because of its sturdy design and clean appearance.

sb:cons Norwegian
Norwegian construction is a welted construction also commonly referred to as Norvegese. Instead of the upper running parallel to the rib in the insole as in Goodyear construction, the upper is turned outward and sits parallel to the outsole. One row of stitching connects the welt to the rib of the insole and another row connects the welt to the outsole. Since the upper is turned outward, Norwegian construction does not allow a way for moisture to enter the shoe by way of the upper / welt stitching.

Norwegian construction is easily identifiable by the stitching along the base of the upper. This construction, like Goodyear, is stiffer than Blake construction. The aesthetic of Norwegian stitching lends itself very well for dress shoes and boots, and adds volume to the shoe resulting in flexibility of wearing with dress as well as more casual attire.

sb:cons Black Rapid
“Suola Due Strati” or Black Rapid in english is a very old construction that arguably offers the best balance between quality and price. Similar in function to Goodyear construction, Black Rapid has two soles which render the shoes very solid yet they are still very elegant and light in weight. Once the shoe is mounted on the last the upper and the first sole are attached by an inner Blake seam, followed by the second sole which is attached by a Rapid seam.

This sturdy construction is more waterproof than the Blake construction thanks to the two sole system. Like welted shoes Black Rapid shoes can also be resoled several times without affecting the shape of the shoe.

Finally another couple of pictures of this fantastic shoe brand which, unfortunately, is at the moment of writing nearly only available in the USA:

sb:3378 D width round toe
sb:alligator pancha alligator cioccolato
sb:calf skin legno
sb:calf verde sombrero
sb:flexible:thin sole
sb:mezza gomma sole
sb:model sb719 boots
sb:model sb871 lace-up

Jaap Bakker

July 26th


The Omega Speedmaster, behind which steering wheel?
by admin

When Omega introduced the Speedmaster in 1957 nobody thought that one day this watch would go into space. It was developed as a sport and race chronograph, Omega being the official timekeeper of the Olympics.
The first Speedmasters were driven by the Omega Cal. 321, a movement that was invented by Albert Piguet of Lemania in 1946.


From about 1960 it became clear that the USA had serious plans for manned flights into space. Among others Rolex, Breitling and Omega were the watch brands that were official candidates for the plans in space.
In the end Rolex, Longines-Wittnauer and Omega were submitted to tests under extreme circumstances.
The following tests were performed:

High temperature: 48 hours at 160 °F (71 °C) followed by 30 minutes at 200 °F (93 °C)
Low temperature: Four hours at 0 °F (−18 °C)
Temperature cycling in near-vacuum: Fifteen cycles of heating to 160 °F (71 °C) for 45 minutes, followed by cooling to 0 °F (−18 °C) for 45 minutes at 10−6 atm
Humidity: 250 hours at temperatures between 68 °F (20 °C) and 160 °F (71 °C) at relative humidity of 95%
Oxygen environment: 100% oxygen at 0.35 atm and 71°C for 48 hours
Shock: Six 11ms 40 g shocks from different directions
Linear acceleration: from 1 to 7.25 g within 333 seconds
Low pressure: 90 minutes at 10−6 atm at 160 °F (71 °C) followed by 30 minutes at 200 °F (93 °C)
High pressure: 1.6 atm for one hour
Vibration: three cycles of 30 minutes vibration varying from 5 to 2000 Hz with minimum 8.8 g impulse
Acoustic noise: 30 minutes at 130 dB from 40 to 10,000 Hz

Finally in March 1965 the Omega Speedmaster was the chosen watch because during most of the tests it had stayed within the maximum deviation of 5 seconds per day.
The Speedmaster was part of the equipment for the NASA Gemini 4 mission and also for the Apollo 11 mission making it the first watch on the moon.

Features: no 'professional' on the dial, no crown guards and pointed lugs

Features: no ‘professional’ on the dial, no crown guards and pointed lugs

Ed White: the first American in space

Ed White: the first American in space

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Buzz Aldrin during his first space walk

Buzz Aldrin during his first space walk

Buzz Aldrin in the cockpit wearing his Omega Speedmaster

Buzz Aldrin in the cockpit wearing his Omega Speedmaster

After a long day of preperations at NASA for the next mission into space there was only one car to drive home with in a relaxed modus, the 1965 Ford Mustang V8 289 Cu in.

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The introduction of the Mustang created a new class of cars known as the Pony Car.
The assistent general manager and chief engineer of Lee Iacocca, the Ford Division general manager, was Donald N. Frey. Frey was the leading figure of the Mustang project and under his supervision the development of the Mustang took place in a record 18 months.
The prototype of the Ford Mustang I was a twoseat roadster with a central engine, designed by Philip T. Clark and John Najjar. In an interview in 1984 Najjar told the following about the prototype:

“We had a studio under Bob Maguire and in it were; Jim Darden, Ray Smith, plus an artist, Phil Clark, several modelers, and me. We drew up a 2-seater sports car in competition with the other studios, and when they saw ours – saw the blackboard with a full-sized layout and sketches- they said, ‘That’s it! Let’s build it.’ So we made a clay model, designed the details, and then built a fiberglass prototype.” This car was simply a concept study rather than the final configuration, but it included a lot of the sporty, rakish flair the later showcar embodied”.


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Racen op Riverside

Racen op Riverside

At Baselworld 2014 Omega introduced the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon.
It’s a tribute to the astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission who were the first humans to see the dark side of the moon with their own eyes. De new Speedmaster is made of a single block of black zirconium oxide ceramic. Laser techniques were used to apply the signs to the bezel.

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About the movement cal. 9300 Omega says the following:

Complete with an innovative column wheel mechanism and Si14 silicon balance spring, the OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 9300 is the first of our exclusive in-house movements to incorporate a chronograph function. The 12-hour and 60-minute counter hands are placed on the same sub-dial at 3 o’clock allowing for an intuitive reading of the recorded time and the reliability of the movement is such that the timepiece is offered with a full four-year warranty.

The following is the information provided by Omega about the use of zirconium oxide ceramic for their latest Speedmaster:


Although Ford in 2014 is again building real Mustangs that pay tribute to their name and fame, I’m choosing another car for the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon.
At the address 2904 Bond Street, Rochester hills, MI 48309, USA EQUUS AUTOMOTIVE INc. has it’s offices. These people build the EQUUS BASS770, a car that finds it’s inspiration in the muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s.
The EQUUS BASS770 is really a fantastic car, the following pictures speak for themselves:

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The official website of EQUUS AUTOMOTIVE INc.

Jaap Bakker

June 16th

Non-Rolex watches

A flight over the road with your Rolex GMT-Master
by admin

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rg:adv pan am ford thunderbird 1970

In 1954 Rolex introduced the GMT-Master ref. 6542. This watch had been developed together with Pan Am Airlines so that their pilots could fix a second time zone on their watch (GMT means Greenwich Mean Time).

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A short product description of the ref. 6542:

Ref. 6542 aka Pussy Galore
Production Period: 1954-1959
Model Name: Rolex GMT Master
Caliber: 1036 (1954-1959), 1065 (1957-1959), 1066 (1957-1959)
Pressure proof to 50m/165ft

This was the first GMT Master.
It was launched 1954. It was developed on the basis of a regular Turn-O-Graph (Ref. 6202). The modifications were a different bezel and a modified movement.

The first version of the Ref. 6542 had a bakelite bezel insert. As this bezel was likely to crack, it got replaced by a metal bezel in 1956.
The bakelite bezel was luminous.

The name Pussy Galore originates from a character in a James Bond movie, wearing this watch.

In 1959 ref. 6542 was replaced by the GMT-Master ref. 1675 which stayed in production until 1980.
A short product description of the ref. 1675:

Production Period: 1959-1980
Model Name: Rolex GMT Master
1565 (1959-1964) 18000A/h
1575 (1965-1980) 19600A/h (hacking introduced 1971)
Pressure proof to 50m/165ft
Bracelet: Oyster 78360, Jubilé 62510
Glass: Acrylic crystal
Indexes: Tritium
Crown guards introduced, pointed crown guards until 1964/65 (with chapter ring dial)..

New inprint on dial: “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified”.

Until late 60s: Small GMT-hand, afterwards large GMT-hand.

Early 1970s: All black version introduced.

The hands are in the following order: GMT/Hour/Minute/Second see this picture.


Caliber 1565
Gloss dial
Thin case

Caliber 1575
Matt dial with white printing.
Other Variants:

Ref. 1675/8 Gold (Leather or Oysterbracelet 7208/8, Jubilébracelet 6311/8).
Ref. 1675/3 Steel/Gold (Oysterbracelet 78363, Jubilébracelet 62523), 14k gold.

Both variants: Early versions with golden crown on dial, late versions just with imprinted crown.


All black lunette geïntroduceerd begin 1970s

All black lunette geïntroduceerd begin 1970s

Kaliber 1575

Kaliber 1575

Variant met de 'root beer' wijzerplaat en 'fat font' op de lunette

Variant met de ‘root beer’ wijzerplaat en ‘fat font’ op de lunette


In the spring of 1968 Henry Ford II made Semon E. ‘Bunkie’ Knudsen CEO of the Ford Motor Company. Although Knudsen was not a designer, he interfered big time with the development of the new Ford Thunderbird that had to be for sale in 1970.

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Knudsen wanted the new Thunderbird to be built on a mid-size chassis (he knew Pontiac was going to do the same with their ill-selling Grand Prix) and not on the current full-size chassis. He also tried to get the for him characterising ‘bold nose front ends’ (the designers called these ‘Bunkie Beaks’) and ‘massive rear quarters on the car.
Although ‘Bunkie’ was fired by Ford in september 1969 after a big clash with Lee Iacocca he had firmly left his autograph on the new Thunderbird. They kept the full-size chassis but his ideas about the front and back of the car had made it to production.

After a long and exhausting intercontinental flight the 1970 Ford Thunderbird was the ideal car for a Pan Am pilot to drive home and only having to read one time zone on his Rolex GMT-Master.

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In 2014 I would like to couple the same Rolex model, now called GMT-Master II (ref. 116719BLRO), to a totally different car than the Thunderbird (which officially doesn’t exist anymore).

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1984 Porsche 911 3.2

1984 Porsche 911 3.2

For many years a familiar sight on the Dutch highways.

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For more than 35 years Dutch police have been driving in the Porsche. In 1960 the first Porsche, type 365 B, was the delivered to the ‘Sectie Bijzondere Verkeerstaken’. The real start of the SBV was January 1st 1962. They had 12 Porsches 365 B. Until the end of 1995 the police have been using Porsches, in total more than 500. In the picture the Pon brothers delivering the first Porsche 365 to the police.

In 2014 Porsche has made a perfect modern interpretation of the 911 Targa from 1965. After the start of the production of the 911 fifty years ago 13% of the cars sold is a Targa. Technical highlight is the electro-hydraulic roof construction which can fold the roof and rear window in 19 seconds.

911 Targa 4 en 4S

911 Targa 4 en 4S

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When the Rolex GMT-Master was introduced in 1955 it had a bezel made of Plexiglas which underside was painted red and blue. Plexiglas was very vulnerable to damages and discolouring by UV light. In 1959 the bezel was replaced by one made of anodised aluminium.
In 2005 Rolex had developed a bezel made of ceramic material, called Cerachrom. Ceramic is a material that is extremely robust and durable: practically scratch resistant, resistant to corrosion and it’s colours are insensible to ultraviolet radiation. Ceramic is high-gloss and offers a razor sharp contrast with the engraved and with a thin layer of gold or platinum covered numbers and signs on it’s surface.
The manufacturing process of the Cerachrom bezel starts with the ceramic which now has a green colour.

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One of the biggest challenges for Rolex in the development of a ‘Pepsi’ bezel for the 2014 GMT-Master II was making the colour red. In general colours are made by adding natural minerals that can withstand the extreme high temperatures in the fabrication process of ceramic. Red is a colour for which there are no stabile mineral pigments to manufacture Cerachrom.
The following is what Rolex tells us about their solutions for the problems there were in the development of the ‘Pepsi’ bezel:

Red and blue Cerachrom
The name “Cerachrom” derives from a contraction of the word “ceramic” juxtaposed with the suffix “chrom” from the ancient Greek word for “colour”. The range of available shades for ceramic is however restricted by its very manufacturing process. Colours are generally created by adding mineral pigments that can withstand the very high temperatures at which the ceramic is fired for its densification and to acquire its characteristic hardness. Red, typically, is a colour for which no stable mineral pigments exist to create a Cerachrom component. Rolex nevertheless managed, in the first instance, to produce a red ceramic according to a secret process. But this innovation represented only half the journey – or, more precisely, took the brand only half way to manufacturing the emblematic red and blue Cerachrom insert.

Rolex’s in-house engineers finally found an answer to the second half of the challenge. The ingenious process consists of introducing an intermediate step in the manufacture of the standard Cerachrom insert. During this innovative bulk-colouring step, half of the red ceramic insert is coloured blue. The colour is achieved by impregnating the part of the insert representing night-time hours, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., with a controlled quantity of a solution of chemical compounds. The solution is added before sintering at more than 1,600 °C, when the ceramic acquires its mechanical resistance properties as well as its colour. In the course of this firing, the ceramic densifies and the added compounds react with the basic elements of the red Cerachrom insert to conjure up the final blue colour.

Although the idea in itself may appear simple, a number of major technical hurdles had to be overcome before it could be implemented: the formulation of a solution of precursor chemical compounds that would turn red into blue; the homogenous application of an appropriate quantity of this solution; ensuring a sharp, precise and clear demarcation between the two coloured areas, the definition of the precise length of time and temperature for the sintering so as to prevent any distortion of the piece. Every single one of these parameters is crucial for the success of the process and the quality of the final product.

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Seeing the 2014 Rolex GMT-Master II with the ‘Pepsi’ bezel out of the corner of your eye makes blasting in the new Porsche 911 Targa just that little bit more comfortable.

Jaap Bakker

June 9th


Suitable transport for your Patek Philippe
by admin

pp:wp Patek-Philippe-Rare-3448-Automatic-Perpetual-Calendar-Pink-Gold
pp:F 400 zijkant

In 1962 Patek Philippe introduced the ref. 3448, the first automatic Perpetual Calender with Moon Phases. Ref. 3448 was fabricated between 1962 and 1985, with a total production of only 586 watches.
Most of them were in yellow gold but there is also a handful in white gold. Very few are in rose gold and 2 or 3 are made of platinum.

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A ref. 3448 with Tiffany & Co on the dial

A ref. 3448 with Tiffany & Co on the dial

A very rare ref. 3448 in rose gold

A very rare ref. 3448 in rose gold

Half way the 1950s Ferrari built less than 100 chassis per year. From 1955 until 1959 production quadrupeled and in 1962 it doubled again which meant the manufacturing of 493 chassis.
Most of these cars were the in series produced 250 GT Coupe, designed by Pininfarina in 1958, and it’s successor, the 250 GT/E.
Ferrari then reached a broad market of well-to-do customers but, apart from a couple of ‘specials’, in terms of pure performance as well as of visible distinction they didn’t have enough to offer to the most demanding part of their customers.
There was a small but very lucrative market of industrials, royalty and stars for whom money was not an issue and who only wanted the best. For them Ferrari developed the 400 Superamerica, designed by Pininfarina.

pp:1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Series I SWB Coupe Aerodinamico

A new engine was designed, Tipo 163, a so called ‘short block’ V12 with a 4 litre capacity (hence the new type indication 400, in the past the indication meant the capacity of one cilinder) and a performance of at least 340 bhp.
For over ten years Ferrari used this block to power the V12 Ferrari’s. A modified version of the Tipo 163 was used in the Ferrari 330 TRI/LM with which Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien became overall winner of the 1962 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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Total production number of the Ferrari 400 Superamerica Series I Coupe Aerodinamico, introduced at the 1962 Geneva Motor Show, eventually was about 13. The only watch of that era that really matched with this fabulous car was the Patek Philippe ref. 3448.

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Let us see what 2014 has to offer.

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At Baselworld 2014 Patek Philippe showed their ref. 5960/1A-001 to the public for the first time. The most interesting feature of this watch with an Annual Calender is that it is made of stainless steel. Normally Patek Philippe only manufactures complicated watches with the use of precious metals. Until now SS was only used for the Nautilus and the Aquanaut.

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Press Release
Description Card

Ferrari has just made the California T public. Just like the ref. 5960/1A-001 it has a very striking feature.
It’s V8 engine is equipped with 2 turbo’s and that is a technical breakthrough for Ferrari (the last Ferrari with a turbo engine was the 1989 F40). This engine not only produces more than enough power, 560 bhp, but also has lower fuel consumption. This development comes straight from Formula 1 where, after a long pause, cars are running with turbo engines again in 2014.

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The Patek Philippe ref. 5960/1A-001 and the Ferrari California T, a combination for the ultimate joy.

Jaap Bakker

June 9th


Non-Rolex watches

A Hamilton Ventura round the wrist, which car?
by admin

In 1957 watch manufacturer Hamilton from Lancaster, Pennsylvania (USA) introduced the first electronic watch in the world, the Ventura 500.
Although the idea was sound, an electronic watch is much more precise than a mechanical movement, the Ventura 500 was never a great success in sales. The biggest downside of the watch was the fact that the battery needed constant replacement.

article about the Hamilton Ventura 500 including sale figures

Despite the disappointing reactions to the Ventura 500 Hamilton at least had one loyal and famous customer: Elvis Presley.


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When Elvis decided to hit the road with his Ventura it was very likely that he would choose one of his 1957s Cadillacs to drive out. Therefore the car brand Cadillac and the Hamilton Ventura 500 got connected to each other in a very strong way.

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. The car used to be pink and was not bought by Elvis in 1957 but much later during a dinner

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. The car used to be pink and was not bought by Elvis in 1957 but much later during a dinner

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville

1957 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special

1957 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special

Anno 2014 the Hamilton Ventura is still produced, under the name Ventura XXL.

Hamilton Ventura XXL

Hamilton Ventura XXL

It is difficult to imagine that a watch as extravagant as the Ventura XXL would not be captured in the hysteria of Hollywood. As a matter of fact it succeeded in ending up on the set of the movie ‘Man in Black 3′.

Hamilton advertisement for the Ventura XXL in MIB3 with photo of the 1969 Ventura

Hamilton advertisement for the Ventura XXL in MIB3 with photo of the 1969 Ventura

Knowning that in 1957, thanks to Elvis Presley, the Hamilton Ventura was strongly connected to Cadillac raises the question how the watch/car bond is in 2014.
The first car that I thought of is the Lexus LFA.

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hv:Lexus-LFA voorkant

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The body work has enough corners and folds to let the exceptional shape of the Venture be integrated into it effortlessly and it’s monstrous V10 engine with 552 bhp garantee that the Venture XXL won’t have to be ashamed about the performances of the car.
With a relaxed left arm hanging out of the window the LFA and the Ventura XXL are best mates.

Jaap Bakker

May 29th

Non-Rolex watches