on the ball

Every now and again I get bitten by an ever bigger and rabid watch bug! My most recent one is around the ball hydrocarbon chronograph. Ball Watch Co. is a rejuvenation of Webb Ball’s original watch company which set the standard for railroad timekeeping in the US. This was back in the late 19th and early 20th century when Webb made the american railroads a safer place by ensuring the accurate timekeeping required to reduce the risk of collisions as much as to keep customers happy.
The hydrocarbon is a superlative mechanical watch in the Ball tradition. Ball are known for their shock resistance and anti-magnetism. In the case of the hydrocarbon this is achieved through using a Titanium case surrounding a soft-iron core. The movement is cleverly mounted for maximum shock resistance and Ball has a patented crown protection mechanism. Lovely 🙂 The most visible characteristic of every Ball is the use of tritium tubes in the dial and hands. The mildly radioactive tritium reacts with the phosporus in the tubes to provide a useful glow in dim light for 25 years. Ball dials are works of art with beautiful guilloche finishing and those purposeful glowing numerals and markers.
I’m looking for the most practical mechanical watch I can find. It’s just gotta keep time reliably through the knocks, smacks etc. that happen in every day life. Having owned many mechanical watches this goal still appears elusive.



I was talking to Richard Rodger recently about my chronological cravings recently and I realised that it may actually not be an illness but an innate psychological condition, a bit like autism. The leading horological website TimeZone has coined the term WIS or Watch Idiot Savant to describe many of its posters. Here’s my own version of the top signs that you’re a complete WIS

  1. The event in 2. is your own wedding
  2. You’re extremely late or miss an important social event because you get caught up setting (or worse regulating) the time on your watch based on the atomic clock.
  3. You know what a helium escape valve is but can’t swim.
  4. You think someone actually cares whether your expensive new watch has an ETA movement or not? Extra points if you tell an uncaring person that the movement has been “extensively modified and improved”
  5. Your girlfriend/wife wishes you’d flirt with the attractive girl in the jewellers as a sign of life 🙂
  6. You refuse to wear your 1200 m water resistant Rolex Seadweller on a wet day as you’re afraid it could be damaged.
  7. You have seriously considered not eating in order to afford a new watch
  8. You spend more on servicing your watch than your car
  9. You keep staring at the expensive swiss watch on the arm on a pretty girl – extra points if you can’t remember a single thing about the girl but can describe the watch in detail.
  10. You know what a hair-spring balance is!?
  11. You have ever looked at the “dial work” on your watch using a magnifying glass.
  12. You’re so excited while buying a new watch you’re asked to sit down by the jewellery store attendant.

I’m guilty of at least 5 of these. Uh oh!


Ode to Titanium

I love Titanium watches. Well I love watches and watches being made from Ti is a boost. The problem with Ti is that once you start to wear a Ti watch you never want to wear a steel one again. It’s so much lighter and mysteriously more comfortable. The reason is to do with the thermal absorption properties of Titanium versus steel or gold. Steel (and gold) conducts heat very well, much better than Titanium. Therefore when you put on a steel watch it absorbs heat from your skin rapidly. This cools YOU down and therefore makes the watch seem cold. On a hot day a steel watch can heat up rapidly and burn your skin. Titanium is a lousy heat conductor so it has less effect when it comes in contact with your skin. The warmth you feel isn’t the warmth of the watch, it’s the lack of heat absorption from the metal. It’s also much lighter (45%) and slightly stronger than steel although the relative hardness of untreated titanium is less so the watches can get scratched. However, there’s always other treatments which can protect the metal. Or indeed Titanium alloys such as Titanium Nitride (TiN).
Unfortunately, some people think Ti looks cheap which makes it hard to get the watch you want in this most desirable of metals. So hopefully Omega will think better of it and produce a Ti Planet Ocean within the next year as I absolutely NEED one.


Ways to spend your SSIA part 1

I’ll probably move this post to the soon to be launched Manifesto blog when I get the chance.
At the moment it’s under construction so it’ll have to live here. The crazy few who read this blog know I’m obsessed with watches and clocks of all sorts. Quartz, mechanical, manual-wind or automatic.. I don’t discriminate against. However, when chatting about SSIA’s to my good friend Kristian Walsh, who’s a fellow watch enthusiast, I started thinking. Women get most of the fun in the shopping department. There are very few ways for guys to go mad and blow all their money in one fell swoop without consultation. I’m not advocating this, merely saying that men can’t shop with impunity whereas women are encouraged to do so. Even fewer ways if you consider that our other halves will guide or derail a purchase as they see fit based on their own taste.
Men are really only free to buy gadgets as women generally either odn’t have an opinion or wan’t to placate us. Mostly watches (which are complex gadgest we wear on our person) and electronics including computers, laptops, iPods and a whole bunch of other groovy things. I’m vaguely serious here 🙂

Image courtesy of TheWatchQuote

In part 2 I’ll focus on electronics but right now I’ll talk about watches. More precisely how do you spend between 5 and 15 thousand euro on a superlatively stylish gadget. Well at Manifesto we’re willing to help you out 🙂
Here’s my top 5 with discounted prices in Euro. Obviously authorised dealer prices will be higher and I’m not about to discuss the pros/cons of buying discounted swiss watches here.

  1. Jaeger LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme World (9,000 euro) Classic sporty looks, patented shock resistance and one of the greatest Chronograph movements in existence. It reigns supreme.
  2. IWC Ingenieur AMG Chronograph (5000 euro) Well finished titanium case, wonderfully precise movement with patented pellaton winding mechanism. Discreet and stylish
  3. Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph (5500 euro) Another titanium chronograph but this time using Seiko’s amazing hyprid electromechanical Spring Drive. The mechanical perfection of one of Seiko’s best mechanical movements together with an electronic regulator give fantastic accuracy. I like the overall design and finish. Only 750 of these hand-assembled beauties will be produced and Seiko makes a loss on each one.
  4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15300 ST (8000 euro) Simply one of the best known, most distincitve and highest-quality stainless steel sports watches available today. Some will complain the design hasn’t changed much in over 25 years but so what? It’s perfect. In the metal everything about this says quality including the trademark 18 kt white gold “screws” in the bezel and the brushed steel finish on all surfaces.
  5. Aquanautics King Cuda (2500 euro) This brand is just 2 years old but really making waves 🙂 Price is slightly misleading as most buyers will customise their CUDA with platinum, gold, diamonds and other precious stones. They could easily spend 20 times that. That’s the unique customisability of the aquanautics watches where bezel, strap and even case can be changed using a simple tool. Each watch is hand-made and is a real collector’s item

I know I haven’t included a single Rolex here and it’s just personal taste. For more information about the availability of each watch then contact me at No time-wasters please!