Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Watch Brand Explosion

As someone who has been in the watch and jewelry industry for over 50 years, the recent explosion of new start-up watch brands has been startling. Almost overnight several dozen new brands have appeared, almost all started with "kick-starter" or other venture capital.  These watches share several obvious similarities including expensive, well designed web pages, massive internet advertising and clever, captivating back-stories, which may, or may not be true.

Under the hood they also have similarities the buyer might never notice.  Almost all are made in China, using Chinese or Japanese movements and little or no technological improvements.  They are instead being sold on styling and marketing prowess.  And, quite honestly, most of these companies will not be around in a year or two.

There is nothing wrong with selling style or story.  Many customers want the newest, most unique looking watch.  And at around $200.00 average retail, the watches are not unfairly priced, although keep in mind you are mostly paying for web designers, copywriters and fashion photographers, not the actual watches themselves.  Similar quality watches (made in the same Chinese factories) are available at your local discount store for around $30.00, but with old names of companies long past their glory.

Hidden amide the myriad of glitzy new brands are a few companies genuinely making watches and seriously innovating new manufacturing techniques.  These companies are genuinely advancing the art of watchmaking, not just slapping fresh paint on an old product.  One of the most innovative today is Armourlite in Miami, Florida. ArmourLite Watch Company is an American company that designs, assembles, and tests watches in the USA.

We will be writing several upcoming blog posts about some of the interesting watch developments and manufacturing innovations from Armourlite, but I'll mention one important innovation today - The Armourglass Shatterproof Crystal found on many (but not all) of their watches. Armourglass crystals are multi-layered and can withstand up to 6,000 Vickers, whereas most watch crystals can only withstand about 700. Using the same technology as bulletproof glass, Armourlite created a crystal that won’t shatter even when one layer is compromised.

We hope you'll visit one (or all) of our three websites to see the complete Armourlite collection of innovative watches: Gem of the Day Armourlite Catalog or the Top Flight Watches Armourlite Catalog.  On our Time 4 Tritium Website, we've divided the Armourlite offerings into two different catalogs for easier shopping. Time4Tritum Armourlite Catalog and Time4Tritium Isobright T100 Catalog

Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Treasure Has Been Discovered

It's been nearly four years since Florida Keys Watches ceased production of watches and stopped the development of new models.  The unexpected death of the principle owner and the designer of the watch line brought the company to an unexpected and tragic end.  The Key Lido collection, pictured above and below, has become something of a legend, a collectible watch highly sought after and desired by watch aficionados worldwide.  Gem of the Day sold it's last remaining watches two years ago yet they still get requests nearly daily and the Florida Keys Web Page (on the Gem of the Day website) is STILL one of the highest trafficked pages in the entire website.

As real credit to the partnership that founded Florida Keys Watches is that the remaining partners have continued to honor all warranties and repair watches as needed.  It helps that the watches nearly never need repair.  It's almost the perfect watch.

This past week Florida Keys Watches contacted us at Gem of the Day and asked it we would help them liquidate a tiny group of remaining watches they discovered in their vaults.  Of course we instantly agreed.  Originally selling at $475.00, we've agreed to sell the remaining watches for just $299.99 each.  Florida Keys will continue to honor the two year warranty and these watches are new, not refurbished.


The History of Florida Keys Time

The story of Florida Keys Time is as unique as the watches themselves. Originally founded in 2002 by a group of retired executives of some of the world's largest and most famous watch companies, the goal of Florida Keys Time was simple: Create a series of watches without compromise. Build the best watch possible without regard to cost. Florida Key's founders were tired of the endless compromises made by the big watch companies. In the end, they believed, such compromises only shortchanged the customers.

Using this philosophy, Florida Key's founders insisted the crystals would be highly  scratch resistant synthetic sapphire glass. The case and bracelets are made of be solid titanium for strength and durability combined with very light weight. Naturally the watches would be depth tested to 100 meters (330 feet) below sea level.

The movements in the Lido Collection are at the very leading edge of technology. Because digital displays make multiple functions like alarms, dual time and chronographs easy to use, the watch needed to utilize large digital displays with full bright backlighting using electro-luminescence.

But the watches also needed to have great styling. Florida Keys chose the newest color digital displays, available in Black, Blue, Yellow or Orange. And the digital display can actually be turned off, yet available to the owner at the simple touch of a button.

Development and field testing of the new Lido Collection was done under the most demanding conditions. Just as there was no compromise in the design, there was no compromise in the testing. These are remarkable watches that can handle any sport, any activity, any work conditions and any situation!

The unexpected death of one of the founders of Florida Keys Time brought the company to an end. The watches are loved by owners world wide and remain one of the most demanded watches Gem of the Day has ever carried. We are proud of our long association with the company and the people who originally envisioned this ground breaking watch.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Power of the Sun

The sundial is the oldest know time keeping instrument.  The earliest known sundials are from about 1,500 B.C.  And the sundial is referred to in the Bible in both Isaiah 38:8 and 2 Kings 20:11 (about 700 B.C.).  It is of course logical to assume that man used the shadows of the sun long before that to estimate time.

One obvious limitation of the Sundial was it's inability to tell time at night, although man quickly learned to use the movement of the stars, planets and moon for that purpose.

If we "fast forward" about 3,600 years man is once again using the Sun as a primary source of power to tell time!  Citizen Watch Company has certainly perfected the use of their ECO-DRIVE power system to  harness light and store it to power very complicated watches that tell the time accurately anywhere on earth.  Here, rather than casting shadows, the sunlight (or artificial light) is converted into electrical energy and stored in a capacitor for use.  Most Citizen watches can store power for a year or more without recharging.

Shown at the top of the page is Citizen Watch Company's newest generation of their Altichron Watch which not only tells time, but also the altitude and compass directions, all powered by light.  The Watch Guys Blog reviewed the Altichron when the watch was first introduced and the functions have not changed.  Here is a link to the original review with its in depth functional instructions: The Watch Guys Review of the Citizen Altichron Watches.

The newest Altichron, model BN5058-07E, has a greatly reduced price, cleaner, more modern lines and superior strength and durability.  Unlike the plastic watches offered by some competitors, the newest Altichron is all stainless steel and is entirely analog.  It looks like a fine watch because it is a fine watch.  The Citizen Altichron is available on both our Gem of the Day and our Top Flight Watches websites at a great discount price with FREE SHIPPING.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Minnie Mouse on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Walt Disney included Minnie Mouse in his very first cartoon short, Steamboat Willie in 1928, the cartoon that also introduced Mickey Mouse to the world. A "fun fact" is that both actually were used by Walt in an earlier cartoon, Plane Crazy, that wasn't released because it was a silent picture and Walt wanted to pioneer the very first cartoon with synchronized sound! Steamboat Willie became the vehicle for animated sound and the introduction of both Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Forty years ago Mickey Mouse got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but Minnie was overlooked... for another forty years! But all that changed January 24, 2018 when Minnie was honored.  Based on the picture above she sure has aged well.  I wish I looked half this good.

Licensed Watch has introduced three new Minnie Mouse Watches to celebrate her induction into Hollywood's Walk of Fame and Gem of the Day has them ready to ship. Just click this link --- Minnie Mouse Watches with Moving Arms and Hands for Teens and Adults

These watches are special because they have Minnie's arms and hands pointo the time. This feature was long a favorite in Mickey Mouse Watches was was rare in a Minnie Mouse Version.  Finally we have true watch equality!

We are adding new Disney Licensed Watches daily in our new Disney Watch Catalog.  Be sure to check it out.  If there is a favorite you would like us to add, just post it in the comments below and drop us an email!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Amazon Dilemma

To Amazon or Not to Amazon, that is the question facing virtually every on-line retailer today.  Amazon is such a retailing powerhouse that it's estimated they control nearly 40% of all on-line sales.  Even for companies like Gem of the Day, that are actually older on-line entities than Amazon, the reality of Amazon's credibility and traffic delivering power makes it virtually impossible to ignore.

Many people don't realize that a huge amount of Amazon's website offerings are actually offered, warehoused and shipped by other, independent, retailers.  The retailer must be pre-approved by Amazon to then list products on the Amazon website.  The advantages to the retailer are obvious: visibility, traffic, credibility, customer confidence, advertising and infrastructure, including credit card processing,  are all provided by Amazon.

But here's the dilemma: Amazon charges substantially for the privilege of listing product on their website.  For jewelry and watches the charge can be as high as 15% to 20% of the offering price.  If the retailer sells the same item on his or her own website, the costs are significantly less.  But so are the sales!!

Retailers we've talked with tell us Amazon will deliver ten times the sales on any given item when compared to the company's own website.  Other retailers tell us it can be 100 times the sales.

Can the retailer find room in their margin to overcome the Amazon commission?  Are the additional sales worth the reduced  margins?

It should be noted that some watch brands, especially some better Swiss brands absolutely PROHIBIT Authorized Dealers from selling their watches on Amazon.  If and when you find those brands on Amazon they will be "gray market" or transhipped watches and the manufacturer will not honor the warranty.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Test of Time

Ten years ago TODAY, October 31, 2007, we added the Citizen Eco-Drive TITANIUM RACING CHRONOGRAPH, model BL5250-02L to our on-line catalog on Gem of the Day.  In the world of watches, especially from the large (gigantic!!!!) Japanese Watch Companies, it is rare for a model to continue to be produced for so many years.  Slow sellers are discontinued almost immediately,  In fact Citizen Watch Company discontinues nearly a third of their line every year!

Yet the Eco-Drive Racing Chronograph has endured for all these years and shows no sign of slowing down.  It has always been one of our top best sellers, and I'm betting it's been a consistent best seller for Citizen, too.

The real question is "Why?" Citizen has produced several hundred (you read that right) models with the identical features of alarm, chronograph, perpetual calendar and dual time zones.  These models have come an gone.  Far fewer have had a TITANIUM CASE and that may well be part of the secret.  Titanium is lightweight and stronger than steel. 

The Eco-Drive Racing Chronograph is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet below sea level.  It is suitable for deep diving (although not with the racing leather strap).  The key here is the BL5250-02L is incredibly tough and no one is afraid to wear it under any conditions or circumstances. 

Beyond that you quickly get into subjective features of looks, styling and comfort.  I always felt it was (and still is) one of Citizen's best looking watches,  The gray dial and easy-to-read hands and numbers and subdials create an understated elegance.  

I certainly don't want to underestimate the importance of the battery-free Eco-Drive movement.  Combined with the nearly indestructible Titanium Case, the watch never needs maintenance.  It simply runs and keeps perfect time forever!  The Citizen Eco-Drive Quartz Movement, Caliber E820, is one of the most tested and proven watch movements Citizen has ever made. The power reserve is nearly 6 months and recharges in two hours of sunlight.

How long with the BL5250-02L Citizen Racing Chronograph be available.  Obviously we don't know, but if you buy one today you'll have yours forever!

Available from both Gem of the Day and Top Flight Watches just by clicking the links.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The P68 Pathfinder Has Arrived!

Traser is a very Swiss and very European oriented watch designer and manufacturer.  They promoted the grand unveiling of their new top-of-the-line flagship watch, the Swiss P68 Pathfinder Automatic aggressively in Europe.  Our previous blog post has the teaser video that never really showed the watch but gave hints to its functions and appearance.  The "Grand Reveal" date was yesterday, September 29, 2017.

Traser elected not to pre-distribute the watches to dealers here in America for fear one of them might post pictures or, even worse, sell a watch before the reveal date.  Traser is great company, but they lack the iron clad control over their dealers that Apple has.  The watches have now been shipped to the U.S. and will be available here for sale in the next few days.

With each new release Traser has shown both its ability and its willingness to take on the premier Swiss manufacturers like Ball Watch and Luminox.  Their watch equal and, in our opinion, often exceed the more well known prestige brands.  Traser does have an advantage. They are the world's only manufacturer of Tritium Gas Tube Illumination.  Others must buy the tubes from Traser.  And Traser keeps the newest technology for themselves for a year or more.

The P68 Pathfinder is a Swiss Automatic and is entirely Swiss Made.  The movement has a date function with the date window at the 3 o'clock position on the dial.

Traser has added an "under the sapphire glass" compass bezel controlled by an external crown at the 8 o'clock position.  A watch compass bezel allows the wearer to use the relative position of the sun compared to the hour hand to determine direction.  The technology here is, quite literally, as old as time.  While other watches have had compass bezels, Traser has embraced the technology here and provides detailed and illustrated instructions on its use with the watch.

As always with Traser the key is the use of multiple illumination technologies to create a watch that at dusk and through the night makes the watch a joy to see and to own. Tritium tubes are used on all three hands and on all 12 hour indices for permanent illumination.  They then add Super Luminova paint to the numbers and the compass bezel to create a wonderland of illumination.  You can see the result at the top of this page.

The Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic is available for order now on the Time 4 Tritium Website which also has a wealth of additional pictures in information about the watch, including fiull specifications.  Be sure to check out the slideshow on the Time 4 Tritium home page.  It takes a few seconds to load but is well worth the await!