Tired of reading that the Omega Speedmaster was the first watch to walk on the moon for the 100th time and that Gérald Genta designed the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in just one night? Are you no longer surprised that the Paul Newman Daytona was bought for almost 18 million US dollars? Then keep reading, because we've put together ten interesting facts about watches as well as a few fun facts that might surprise even die-hard watch insiders. Put your knowledge of watches to the test and see if you already know everything about watches!
Do you know these insider facts about watches?
Fact #1: Hublot's connection to cheeseLet’s start with a fun fact about watches. Jean-Claude Biver, the former CEO of Hublot, is more than a creative, professional genius. Every year, Biver makes around five tons of premium cheese on his estate in the Swiss Alps. This is only produced for a few weeks in the summer to imbue the milk and cheese with a slight floral note, which makes Biver's cheese not only exclusive because of its limited production. Furthermore, he does not regard this unusual hobby as a secondary source of income. Apart from two charitable fundraising campaigns in 2014 and 2016, during which the businessman sold his cheese at the Kaempff-Kohler delicatessen, he distributes it to friends, family and restaurants.
HUBLOT BIG BANG KING POWER 719.QM.1729.NR.AES10
Fact #2: The Queen's tiny watchQueen Elizabeth II, also known as "Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other countries and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith", is one of the most powerful women in the world, who demonstrated a remarkable sense of style and taste upon her coronation on June 2, 1953 by wearing a wristwatch by Jaeger-LeCoultre. This was no standard model such as the Reverso. On that day, the Queen wore a slim diamond-studded bracelet that integrated the world's smallest mechanical wristwatch at the time, the Jaeger-LeCoultre 101. Her sense of style is no accident. Queen Elizabeth II is known around the world for her colourful outfits, large hats, and colour-coordinated umbrellas, all of which follow strict courtly etiquette.
Incidentally, the JLC 101 appears not to have been designed exclusively for women, because there are cuff links, for example, with an integrated 101 from the 1930s for men.
Fact #3: Rolex does not give giftsThere are many myths and misconceptions about Rolex that persist. Let's take this opportunity to clear up one special rumour. Believe it or not, Rolex does not give away watches. Not to anyone. Not even to Hollywood's stars and starlets for well-placed promotional purposes. If a celebrity is seen walking around with a Rolex on their wrist, someone will have paid for that watch. Even major film productions are not exempt, although it's not uncommon to see the odd luxury watch onscreen. For example, it is said that the producer of the first James Bond movie put his personal Rolex Submariner on Sean Connery's wrist, because Rolex refused to provide a wristwatch for the filming. Only Rolex sponsorships are exempt from this oddity.
Fact #4: Rigorous testing without limitsNo luxury watch manufacturer can avoid extensively testing its products. Whether it's Rolex, Omega or Patek Philippe, every model is put through its paces before it's shipped. However, some manufacturers choose to go a little further. Jaeger-LeCoultre, for example, performs its famed "1,000 Hours Control" test, which extensively checks the functionality of the movement before and after it is fitted into the case for a total of 1,000 hours. The models undergo a variety of tests that simulate different everyday situations in the most detailed way possible.
JAEGER-LECOULTRE DUOMETRE Q6042520
Omega regularly challenges itself and its timepieces to peak performance when subjecting its watches to rigorous testing. That's how it came about that the Swiss manufacturer attached a Seamaster to the outside of the aircraft of Canadian Pacific Airline Flight 302 in 1956, whose route stretched from Amsterdam to Canada via the North Pole. When the plane landed after nine hours, the Omega Seamaster model was found to be in perfect working order and still keeping good time.
This wasn't the only extreme test that an Omega watch had to endure. The manufacturer equipped the submersible "DSV Limiting Factor" for the deepest dive in human history with the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional, which was specially developed for this expedition. The timepiece was attached to the outer hull of the submarine and survived the diving expedition to a depth of 10,928 metres without any problems. However, before this watch was developed at all, the prototypes, which were water-resistant to 15,000 metres, were tested at Triton Sub in Barcelona in the presence of a DNV-GL expert, which constitute the toughest test conditions to which a watch had been subjected to date.
Fact #5: A "happy face" for a positive influenceHave you ever noticed while strolling through a pedestrian zone that there is an extraordinary detail in the window displays of jewellery stores, with which (almost) all the watches on display have in common? Don't know what we mean? Pay close attention to the watch dials the next time you go shopping. The hands on the models in the displays and shop windows are generally positioned at 10:10. The explanation for this phenomenon could hardly be more likeable. The fact that the hour hand points to the ten and the minute hand to the two is to create an association with the raised corners of a smile, which is supposed to trigger a positive feeling in the observer of that watch.
Another theory for the watch hands' special arrangement is that it provides an unobstructed view of brand logos, lettering, and other details on the dial, and consequently showcases the watch at its best – which is, of course, entirely in line with the manufacturer's intentions.
Fact #6: Fortune favours the patientDid you know that a Rolex is still assembled entirely by hand? If this watch fact is an old hat to you, there's even more watch knowledge in store when it comes to the production of Rolex watches. One fact not many people know is that a Rolex watch takes a total of one year to complete. In addition to the manual construction, this time includes the comprehensive tests that each individual watch has to undergo in the workshop. Quality has its price and takes time. That makes it all the sweeter to know that your personal wristwatch is a testament to time-honoured craftsmanship and has been thoroughly put through its paces.
ROLEX DATEJUST 116234
Fact #7: One model, 12 manufacturersAt the beginning of the World War II in 1939, England switched its economy to the production of war-related goods. At the time, the wristwatch industry was still more or less in its infancy and couldn't meet the high demand for robust wristwatches. That was only for the time being, because in 1945, 12 watch manufacturers provided the solution with an identical wristwatch: the WWW watch (short for "watch, wrist, waterproof") was produced by Omega, Longines, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Lemania, Cyma, Buren, Eterna, Vertex, Record, Timor and Grana at the request of the British Ministry of Defense. In order to get as many watches for the army as possible, several Swiss companies were commissioned to produce watches simultaneously. The 12 aforementioned companies were the only manufacturers that met the strict criteria and requirements for the watches.
Round, plain cases, a subdial for small seconds, and black dials with luminous hands and Arabic numeral hour markers distinguish these rugged military watches. A complete collection consisting of one of these watches from each of the 12 manufacturers, known as "The Dirty Dozen", is something of a Holy Grail among watch enthusiasts. Completing such a collection, however, is a real challenge and can become a life's work.
Fact #8: Rolex – the "Swiss" watchmakerAt this point, let's take a quick, critical look at the Swiss watch industry and its figurehead, Rolex. Hans Wilsdorf was born in Bavaria as the son of two ironmongers and travelled to Switzerland as a young man for work after the early death of his parents, but it would be years before the founding of his own company. It was not until years later that he and his partner Alfred Davis founded the watch trade "Wilsdorf & Davis" in London in 1905. In 1908, "Wilsdorf & Davis" became "Rolex Co. Ltd.", which didn't relocate to Biel, Switzerland until 1915. Strictly speaking, Rolex is not a Swiss invention in its origins – a fact about the brand that not many people know. Nevertheless, the label "Swiss Made" still applies and is entirely justified as a synonym for the outstanding quality of these watches.
ROLEX DATEJUST II 116333
Fact #9: Thrown out the windowThe fact that luxury watches have to pass a variety of tests before they reach the market is no special watch knowledge. Fine timepieces are tested to their limits for their water resistance, accuracy, and much more. This necessitates expensive equipment that is often more complex and costly to develop than the wristwatches themselves. But we have another funny story in store when it comes to things you need to know about watches.
While watches from Omega have to withstand the painstaking tests performed by NASA or are sent to the deepest point of the oceans, the Japanese manufacturer Casio designed its tests – at least according to legend – in a somewhat less complicated and significantly less expensive manner. While Casio's timepieces don't fall into the luxury segment, the company must be taken seriously as a major corporation. Instead of designing complex machines and having robots move the wristwatches for hours, Ibe, the chief designer at the time, simply threw different G-Shock models out of a second-floor bathroom window in 1983. If the watch survived the ten-meter fall relatively unscathed and worked after hitting the pavement, it was considered a success. Would that also be the case for an Omega Speedmaster or Vacheron Constantin Overseas? We'll leave this question open, but don't advise trying it at home.
The idea allegedly came to Ibe while watching children playing with a rubber ball. No matter how hard the ball was thrown to the ground, its interior remained unfazed. Ibe quickly adopted this principle for the acclaimed Casio G-Shock.