Archive for June 10th, 2010

Blancpain Moon Phase: A History

The moon has been an object of wonder for centuries. It was one of mankind’s first guides to the measurement of time, and until relatively recently was the only source of night-time illumination. It controls the tides of the oceans and, it is thought, our moods. Many farmers are aware of the influence of the phases of the moon upon the cycle of harvesting. It is no surprise then that many time-keeping industries have incorporated the moon’s revolving phases into their productions.

Blancpain is well-recognized for its production of moon phase watches. In 1983 the Calibre 6395 was introduced and marked the revival of the art of mechanical watchmaking. The watch has a classic functions display that is highly prized by collectors. Within the hour markers are the thirty-one days of the longest months. Below the 12 o’ clock is the month and day have their windows. Above the 6 o’ clock is the famous slant-eyed “man in the moon” among golden stars; in a crescent above him are the timed passing phases of his cycle. This model is well-known for having the smallest complete calendar moonphase plate of any watch in history. After some time, the watch was followed by the Calibre 6763, which featured the original moonphase and date displays. However, this watch incorporated Blancpain’s own Calibre 1150 automatic movement and embraced a power reserve of 100 hours.

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Calibre 6395, Blancpain produced two limited editions in 2003, one in 18kt karat pink gold and the other in platinum. The rotor in the automatic movement was a hand-carved “man on the moon”.

In 1993 Blancpain surprised the horological world with its production of a series of erotic watches (AKA bonking watches). These watches are defined by characteristics such as 18kt karat yellow gold, mechanical movements, and only a single watch of each design – based on paintings by the French artist Francois Boucher. These watches retail as high as 89,950 pounds each.

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Cartier Tank: A History

The story of the Tank timepieces ranges back a long time – as far back as World War I. The very first was designed in 1917, at a time when French forces were successfully employing the armored Renault tank. Inspired by its appearance, Louis-Joseph Cartier set out to design a prototype of the Tank Normale, as it became known, with a square dial between two extended brancards (vertical bars). This recalled the fact that the twin tracks of the tank were longer than the machine between them.

In December 1919, the very first six production models went on sale. While not identical, they did share similar characteristics such as matt silver dials, chemin-de-fer chapter rings, “spade” hands in blued stainless steel and sapphire cabochons on their winding crowns. Half of the watches had roman numerals, while the other half had arabic. All were in a 9-ligne calibre size, with bar lugs hidden beneath leather straps. Later in the year, a 7th jewelry version (with upright  arabic numerals) watch was manufactured. The watch had a smaller, 8-ligne calibre, and the identical shared characteristics as the previous models, but with wider brancards on the platinum case.

Because none of the Cartier Tank models had ever been produced in great numbers, the model remained/remains an appealing watch. Only 6 were sold in 1919. From 1919 to 1963 annual sales of all models combined exceeded 100 only six times. The highest sales figure was 152 in 1962 (when the total number of all Tank watches ever sold reached 2092).

Today, Cartier’s best seller remains the Tank Francaise. At its elaborate launch in Switzerland in 1996, Cartier’s communications director, Pilar Boxford, made the following prediction: “The watch stands a good chance of becoming one of the great status symbols of the 21st century”.

Perhaps this prediction is true as the Cartier Tank Francaise continues to grow in popularity around the world, being worn by many celebrities, European royalty, and other important figures.

Checklist of Tank Models:

1919 – Tank Normale
1921 – Clintree Chinoise L.C.
1922 – Allongee
1926 – Petite Tank Rectangle Savonnette
1928 – A Guichets
1931 – Shaped Baguette Etanche 8 Jours
1932 – Basculante
1936 – Asymetrique
1944 – Carree
1953 – Petite
1962 – Half Tank
1963 – Off-Centre Case Ordinaire
1966 – JJC Elongated Curved Case
1967 – Standard Curved
1968 – Mini Tank L.C.
1977 – Arrondie
1978 – Lady
1989 – Americaine
1993 – Mini Tank Riviere Kilim
1996 – Francaise
2002 – Divan
2003 – Solo
2005 – Tankissime

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Raymond Lee Jewelers

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Diamonds Scream “KEEP ME CLEAN!”: A guide to cleaning your fine jewelry in Boca Raton.

Pink Sapphire ring
Image via Wikipedia

Hello again it’s me, Richard, your south Florida Jewelry Guru.  Its not often that I get so riled up about a subject that I have to vent and go on a bit of a rant but today I came upon the straw that broke the came’ls back.  A woman came into the store today and asked for a favor.  She asked me to take her tennis bracelet off because she was unable to.  I was stunned because I was unable to as well.  The amount of schmutz (technical term) that was stuck in between the workings of the clasp was insane.  I explained to her the reason she couldn’t get her bracelet off was because it needed a good cleaning.  In fact I am surprised she didn’t think it needed cleaning as there was so much dirt and grime underneath that her stones looked like they came straight out of the ground.

It amazes me that people to this day seem to think that once you have purchased your shiny new bauble that you are off the hook for thinking about it again other than enjoying wearing it.  How can you enjoy wearing something that looks like a piece of junk caked in dirt and grime?  Americans spend millions of dollars a year on jewelry but rarely do they think of any maintenance after the fact.  Most jewelry stores offer some sort of jewelry cleaning service.  Some stores will charge a small fee for doing so, while others will not as part of their regular practice of good customer service.  At Raymond Lee Jewelers we will gladly clean your jewelery whether you bought it here or not.  Before we put your jewelry in the ultrasonic we evaluate its condition to make sure there are no loose or damaged stones to prevent any potential problems in the future.  If there is a loose stone or any other issue we will be able to address it before any real problems begin.  In addition here is some basic information as to how to keep your jewelry looking its best.

#1) Always use lotions and creams long before putting your jewelery on.  Diamonds love to stick to oil.  In turn the oils from your creams, lotions and even your own natural oils will cling to your stones and in turn dirt will stick to it.

#2) Do not use toothpaste to clean your diamond, it is an old wives tale that it will clean your diamond.  It will only make matters worse as toothpaste has abrasives in it that can harm the metal your stone is set in.  In addition it is also very difficult to rinse clean.

#3) Many colored stones are sensitive to changes in temperature so always use room temperature water when cleaning them.  You can use a mild solution of water with a few drops of liquid dish soap.  Make sure you rinse the piece well as a residue can be left behind if you do not.  NEVER immerse your emeralds, pearls, coral or turquoise  in any water or other chemicals or solutions.

#4) If you have a cappuccino machine with a steamer that only steams water (sounds silly but some have a reservoir for milk) it is safe to use on your diamonds, rubies, and sapphires.

If you have any other questions, send them to me and I will do my best to answer you.  Better yet come visit us!

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