Thursday, October 24, 2013

Watch Winders & a Brief History of Automatic Watches

In the age of electronic watches, why a watch winder as a gift?  Well, watch winder may be a slight misnomer, unless you really understand how the most modern of watches work.  Watches that do not require manual winding OR a battery are powered by the movement of the arm while walking and are oftentimes referred to as automatic watches.

A watch winder simulates the walking movement by rotating in circular patterns.  This keeps the watch “wound” when not being worn and ensures accurate time, especially for watches that keep perpetual calendars or moon phases.

So how do those watches work?  In a nutshell, there’s a weighted pendulum that swings and transfers energy to wind a mainspring.  Early moderns only moved 180 degrees so would only wind when the arm swung in a single direction.  As these movements were limited by restraints, they were referred to as “bumper” designs and would keep time for ~12 hours after movement stopped.  As these evolved, Rolex designed a pendulum that would swing the full 360 degrees while simultaneously increasing the amount of energy stored; these would keep time up to 35 hours.

The final evolution was the introduction of ball bearings which increased the weight of the moving winder, significantly increasing efficiency, and remains the standard today.

Wondering when these innovations occurred?  Well, the first automatic watch was developed in the 1770s in France, and the final ball bearing solution was developed in 1948.  Automatic watches remain the mark of a high-end, luxury watch, though, ironically, because of the size and weight needed to keep wind the mainspring, many luxury watch makers continue to build manual wound watches, which is the simplest design.

So as you look at someone who keeps and enjoys luxury watches, it’s likely that at least one is an automatic watch.  Need to think of a gift for him or her?  Try a watch winder.  You can visit where we have many examples of the most modern and elegant watch winders.

luxury watch winder

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Watch Box - Great Christmas Gift for a Man

Wondering about a great gift for a man in your life?  Consider a luxury wooden watch box!  Most men have at least two watches:  business and casual.   And many have quite a few:  for business, casual, date night, outdoor adventure, SCUBA diving, flying, a family heirloom, and a high-value watch for very special occasions.  Wardrobe-conscience men may have multiple watches to match a specific attire as well.

When looking to purchase a watch box, consider these three main concerns:
1.     An excellent return policy and warranty period
2.     Color and style to fit your décor
3.    Price

Return policy and warranty periods should be at least 30 days and 1 year, respectively.

Color and style are obvious; if your room furniture is modern, traditional, or antique, most wood watch cases will fit in, but, like any item that you will have for years or decades, you’ll want to make sure that it will continue to fit in with changing bedroom styles.  Middle grain colors such as cherry fit well with dark or light motifs.  Coffee or black work for more modern bedroom designs, and light woods for well-lit rooms do well.

Next look at price.  The vast majority of wooden watch boxes fall between $100 and $300.  With the average dollar spent per Christmas gift item around $200, this gift, while a luxury item, is well within the normal range.  Most importantly, the value of a wooden watch box is exceptional.  For a man who likes his watches, this gift will last for the rest of his life, and provide excellent protection for his collection.  Finally, it provides a great idea for next year:  another watch to expand the collection!

So whether it holds two or ten, a wooden watch box can be a perfect gift almost any man.  These types of cases look terrific on the dresser and all luxury watch boxes have a glass display top to show off the collection, as well as heavily padded sleeves and individual sections to protect against scratching.  Many are locking, and a few have gliding drawers in which to place pocket items such as pens and keys.  Why wood as the material?  For the same reason as wooden hangers:  to absorb moisture.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Extreme Form of Jewelry

An interesting tidbit about the extreme use of jewelry.

Are you familiar with  the elongation of the neck caused by neck rings?  This is the practice of women as young as 2 in certain African and Asian cultures of adding rings around their necks as they age to lengthen the neck.

In reality, their necks aren’t getting longer, their collar bones are compressing.  Normally, a person’s collar bones are angled upward.  As the women add more rings, the bones are slowly pushed downward. As they age and continue to add more rings, the bones of their rib cage will slowly compress downward as well, upwards of 45 degrees from normal.  This movement of the core body structure downward is what gives the illusion of the neck lengthening.  The purpose of doing this to accentuate the concept of ideal beauty associated with longer necks.

Similarly, jewelry can be used in non-bone structure areas such as the lip, tongue, and earlobes to elongate the skin and allow for ever larger rings and discs.  These are not only viewed as status symbols, but also as a sign of commitment to the culture.

Whether these women use specific types of jewelry boxes to store various styles of rings or discs is not readily known :).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Foot Styles for Standing Jewelry Armoires

Now that we've talked about leg design, a natural next discussion point is the foot design for standing jewelry armoires.  Like the leg styles, foot styles generally fall into antique, traditional, and modern.

Antique designs include Arrow, Ball, Block, and Bun.  All of these are designs that have withstood the test of time, over centuries, and remain both functional and attractive.

Traditional designs include the Bracket, Cylindrical, French, and Ogee Bracket Foot with French and Bracket Foot being two of the more popular.  The Pad Foot is a simple design that fits well with Cabriole legs (and are therefore popular foot designs).

For standing jewelry cases with no legs, the Onion Foot (and versions of it) as well as the Bracket Foot tend to be the most popular as, like the antique designs mentioned above, they are practical and visually appealing.

These styles tend to be used in designs such as Heppelwhite, Sheraton, Windsor, Chippendale, and Queen Anne.

Feet for modern standing jewelry armoires are generally square blocked at the bottom, as the legs are normally straight with little design and, as such, the feet become extensions of the legs.  In some cases, the feet are cut to points or notched to provide a visual break between the leg and foot.

Animal designs that are rarely seen include the Claw & Ball, Dolphin, Hoof, and Paw.

The attraction of any standing jewelry case is going to be a combination of all aspects of the design:  feet, legs, drawers, hardware, finish, wood, and wood design.  As you shop for a standing jewelry box, the integration of each one of these will create choices that will let you pick the perfect jewelry box for you!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Leg Styles for Standing Jewelry Armoires

As we continue to delve into the various styling aspects of jewelry cases as part of our “Jewelry Cases as a Great Christmas Gift”, we’re moving on to an important style aspect for standing jewelry cases or jewelry armoires, and that is leg design.

The most elegant floor model jewelry cases feature leg styles (meaning there is a 12 to 24 inch leg rather than the jewelry case extending all the way to the floor).  For antique or more traditional designs, these legs are normally curved and end in a foot design.  For example, Queen Anne designs feature Cabriole legs terminating mainly in snake feet.  A very traditional design, usually reserved for very heavy cases, is the fluted leg, which is modeled from Greek columns and taper from top to bottom; the flutes are concave.

Popular styles also include Saber legs or variations of the Saber leg.  These designs splay outwards at the bottom and are thin yet very sturdy.  They are normally associated with the early French Empire.

Reeded and Spiral legs are similar in design and can be found on standing jewelry cases, but are normally reserved for heavier furniture.  This can be a consideration when matching a jewelry case to existing décor.

The most common designs for standing jewelry cases are variations of the Cabriole Leg with Claw & Ball foot, usually for more antique designs, to Saber Leg designs as more traditional but not quite antique, to straight leg designs that end in a block foot.  These three shapes have stood the test of time for jewelry armoire designs.

So as you shop, keep in mind that the leg style plays a significant role in determining what style will fit your bedroom!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Design Choice: Traditional, Modern, Deco

We’ll stick with the Christmas gift theme and talk about buying a wooden jewelry box:  an obvious question is design - traditional, modern, or deco?

Traditional jewelry boxes are the most popular, as their colors are more subdued and the designs have stood the test of time; they won’t go “out of style”.  Traditional designs are noted for the wood texture, paint color, and shape of the legs, in the case of standing armoires.  Wood texture is normally distressed to show age, but not appear worn out.  Paint color is muted:  darker tones, single color, staining rather than actual painting, though any painting that is not natural too wood is normally single-coated, with the underlying wood grain showing through a thin layer.  (Check out the picture of the Ningbo Chinese style, in rustic green, for a great example of this.)  Designs are prevalent as well, artistic criss-cross patterns along the top being widely used.  Leg patterns are almost always curved.

Modern styles tend to have straight legs, are highly polished and smooth, and are built to have the wood grains line up.  In luxury wooden jewelry boxes, a sign of excellent craftsmanship is how well the grains align.  Modern wooden jewelry box styles generally eschew extravagant designs and are normally blocked at the top and side.  Wood grains are exotic, such as bubinga.

Deco styles may be considered to be ultra-modern, with the paradox of being recreations of the art deco of the 20s, a purported throw-back but a nod to ultra-modern anyway.  These are almost always smooth, highly polished, wood grain covered by coats of paint, and, in may cases, multi-colored.  These are also very beautiful, though may not go with traditional furniture.

So when you look to buy a wooden jewelry box, and are trying to decide on design, traditional is the safest bet, modern can fit almost all decors except the most antique-looking, and deco is great for the most modern bedrooms!