FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why do some Roman numeral dials represent the 4th hour as 1111 instead of IV?
There are a number of theories on this matter, but for simplicities’ sake, I will only discuss the three most common opinions.
One explanation is that a famous clockmaker was commissioned to build a clock for a powerful king in Europe. The clockmaker printed the dial with the 4th hour represented as IV, as is the correct
4 manner. The king informed the clockmaker that it was wrong and should be represented as Jill. The clockinaker assured the king that IV was correct. However, the king persisted and the clockmaker wanting to keep his head attached to his body, changed the dial to feature the 1111 configuration— ‘ thus, the tradition was born. This of course is very unlikely, but it does sound colorful.
The next explanation dates back to Roman mythology, when apparently IV was too similar to the name for the Roman god ‘Jupiter’, whose name in Latin begins IV.
representingthe J and V being used instead of LI in ancient times, thus IV (in Latin) represented the abbreviation JU for ‘Jupiter’. They
felt it was disrespectful to display the name of a god on the face of a / clock. Again, this seems a bit far fetched, but you never know—it’s just crazy enough to be true.
• The final explanation (and likely the correct one), is also the sim- plcst. It’s just a matter of symmetry on the dial. With the 4th hour
represented as Jill, then you would have the first 4 hours displaying / n the I numeral, the second 4 hours displaying the V numeral and the ‘1/ ft last 4 hours displaying the X numeral. Furthermore, the hour positioned
opposite the Jill is the VIII. These numerals arc more similar if physical appearance (and size) than IV & VIII would be, thus the Roman numeral watch dial
1 1111 configuration makes for a more balanced appearance on the dial, featuring the 4th hour as Jill. As usual, the simplest explanation is often the correct one.
How was the standard direction of clockwise (left to right determined?
Although this is difficult to conclusively determine, there is a general consensus regarding why the hands of a clock move from left to right, thus clockwise.
The explanation dates back thousands of years to the earliest civilizations: the Sumcrians and Babylonians, who tracked the movement of the stars in the heavens from left to right. This was due to the fact that they were located in the Northern Hemisphere, and since the Sun was located to the South, you would have to face South to the track the Sun’s path across the sky. They even wrote of religious ceremonies and events that required left to right motions. This could also have been the inspiration for modern writing flowing from left to right, as well as a number of other habits and rituals which utilize a left to right motion.
Centuries later, the Egyptians created giant obelisk-shaped sundials called Cleopatra Needles, which cast shadows onto the ground to track the 12 parts of the day. Due to the size of these sundials (or sun-clocks, as they are often called), one had to stand back, facing the North, if they wanted to easily view the shadows—thus, the shadows would travel across the ground from left to right. Otherwise, if you faced the South, you would constantly be looking over your shoulder to view the shadows. Again, this was due to the fact that they were located in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Sun, being to the South, would cast the shadows to the North.
With this being said, the evolution of clocks took a natural progression toward a left to right movem nt. This of course poses the question: If modern civilization had developed from Africa or Aus:ralia. being in the Southern Hemisphere, would clockwise be right to left, thus counter-clockwise?48
Where did the term ‘Horologv’ originate?
While the exact origin is unknown, an early use of the term is as follows. The ancient Roman water clock was known as a Horologiurn, and after the fall of the Roman Empire, many Latin-speaking cultures adopted variations of the name to describe subsequent timekeepers. Some of those variations were: horloge, orloge, orologio, orloige and oreloige.
Centuries later, in 1656, Christian Huygens invented the first Pendulum clock, based on Galileo’s design. Seventeen years later, in 1673, Huygens chronicled the invention (among others) in a book entitled: Horologium Oscillatorium. Then around 1751, Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille borrowed the term to name an obscure constellation in the southern hemisphere (“the pendulum”), thus honor:rig Huygens’ invention. The name was later shortened to Horologium, and thus the term ‘Horology’ has been used to describe “the science of measuring time”.
What is the most money ever paid for a Rolex?
Rolex wristwatches are known for being of the utmost quality and therefore are also known for being quite expensive. However, Rolex does not hold the ‘World Record’ for the most money ever paid for a wristwatch. That record goes to Patek Philippe, when one of their watches recently sold for SFr. 6603’SOO ($4,026,524; £2,774,579) at the Antiquorum’s auction in Geneva, on April 14, 2002. The watch, Lot 608, was a 1939, (probably unique) Platinum World-Timer (Ref. 1415HU “Heures Universelles”; No. 929693; Case No. 656462), featuring 41 names of cities & locations engraved around the milled dial.
At the same auction, Rolex set a world record of their own when a 1952 Oyster Chronograph sold for SFr. 322’500 ($196,646; £135,504)—the most money ever paid at auction for a Rolex wristwatch. This watch, Lot 125, was the famed Jean-Claude Kllly (Ref. 6036), 50m=165ft Anti-Magnetic.49
Why does a quartz movement ‘tick’ instead of ‘sweeping’ like a mechanical watch?
Before answering this we must first give a very basic explanation of how a mechanical watch operates. There are three basic parts to a watch’s movement:
1: A power source (or mainspring).
2: An oscillating mass (or balance wheel) which provides the timed rate.
3: A series of gears which regulate the beat of the balance wheel and transfers this rate to the hands.
What results is the step (or action) of the second hand. This action is so fast (upwards of 8 times per second) that the second hand gives the illusion of sweeping (or floating) around the dial.
Quartzwatches use a tiny energy cell (or battery) to replace the mainspring as the power source. The oscillating mass is replaced by a tiny piece of shaped quartz crystal, which is tuned to a frequency of 32,768 Hz (cycles per second)—this is often called the piezoeleetric effect and is similar to that of a tuning fork. A system of integrated circuits then divides the frequency into one-second pulses to drive a tiny motor, which in turn drives the hands.
The purpose of these pulses being timed to one-second is simply a matter of power. To achieve a faster pulse, it would require a higher frequency which would require a much larger power source. Therefore, a one-second pulse is used, resulting in the second hand ‘ticking’ in one-second intervals.
It is worth noting that the accuracy of a particular timepiece is directly-proportional to the beats or cycles per second. Whereas, a timepiece with a higher ‘per second’ rate has the capability of being more accurate. This rate for current Rolex models is 8 beats per second, where a quartz clock is 32,768 cycles per second and an atomic clock is 9,192,63 1,770 cycles per second.
Therefore, the accuracy error for a mechanical chronometer is rated at no more than a few seconds per day, while a quartz is a fraction of a second per day, but an atomic clock is accurate to less than one second in over 1,000 years!
Is it illegal to sell ‘Replica ‘Rolex watches?
In a word—Yes! Replica watches are in fact counterfeit and therefore are illegal. On January 17, 2001, the U.S. District Court in Columbia, S.C. charged two individuals with selling allegedly counterfeit versions of Rolex watches. Their website fakegifts.com claimed the watches to be “replicas”. Mark Dipadova was later sentenced to 24 months in prison and was ordered to pay $138,264 in restitution for “trafficking counterfeited trademarks”, while Rufus Todd Jones was sentenced to 36 months in prison, and was ordered to pay $1 16,779 in restitution on a similar charge.
What does the “T” designation at the bottom of the dial mean?
This refers to the chemical uscd on the hands and hour markers, which causes them to illuminate. Around 1950, watch makers started using Tritium as their luminous material, and began indicating the amount of that radioactive material with a designation at the bottom of the dial (i.e. T SWISS T or SWISS T < 25). Around 1998, watchmakers changed the designation to read: SWISS MADE, when they replaced the Tritium with LumiNova (an organic, non-radioactive chemical), as their source of luminescence.
T SWISS MADE T indicates that the radioactive material Tritium is present on the wristwatch. The amount of radioactive material emitted is limited to a maximum of 25 milliCurie.
SWISS T <25 more specifically indicates that the wristwatch emits an amount of Tritiurn that is less than the 25 milliCurie limit.
SWISS T 25 indicates that the wristwatch emits the maximum allowable amount of Tritium (i.e. a full 25 milliCurie),
SWISS MADE on wristwatches produced after (around) 1998, this indicates the presence of LurniNova as the luminous material. (Please Note: “SWISS MADE” was also the indication on wristwatches produced prior to the 1 950s, when Radium was used as the luminous material. However, at that time “SWISS MADE” simp&’ indicated that the watch was in fact made in Switzerland.)
The following is a brief history of these luminous materials:
Around 1913, watchmakers began using a radioactive alpha emitter called Radium which, over a period of time, disintegrates into Radon (also known as Radon gas), a radioactive beta emitter which is considerably more hazardous—especially when inhaled.
Radium didn’t pose a direct hazard to the wearer (since there is no physical contact), but did to those working in the factories producing the luminous paints. It was later determined that workers who applied the Radium paint to watch dials were experiencing health problems as well. This was due to the fact that they would often lick the tips of their paint brushes, thus creating a finer point and making it easier to apply. This prolonged contact eventually resulted in many cancerous conditions.
Radium was widely used into the 1940s, but was subsequently replaced by Tritiuin around 1950. Since Radium has a substantial half life (meaning how long the material lasts before losing its radioactive properties), it was feared that old watches containing the Radium paint could pose a health hazard to the public if the crystals were broken, thus an increased possibility for physical contact.
Tritium is a low-level radioactive beta emitting version of hydrogen, thus was considered less of a health risk. That’s not to say that Tritium is a completely safe chemical. Since it does have a radioactive content, prolonged physical contact could be harmful as well. However, the radiation exposure to the wearer (under normal conditions) is nominal. Furthermore, due to the reduced half life (being only around 10-15 years), Tritium will lose its illumination and begin to fade after only a few years.
With that being said, watch manufacturers did the ‘politically correct’ thing and began phasing out Tritium in favor of the newer (and safer) chemical LumiNova around 1998. This new material is not only safe, but also maintains its illumination substantially longer. It is worth noting that the chemical LumiNova actually glows ‘green’, and is considered by some to be less cosmetically appealing than the clean ‘white’ appearance of Tritiurn.
What is the difference between a ‘chronometer’ and a ‘chronograph’?
This is a very common question since people often confuse the two. While their names may sound similar, these terms have very little in common.
Chronometer is a term used to describe a highly-precise timepiece which, after rigorous testing, has received an official timing certificate from the official Swiss timing bureau Contróle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (COSC). Thus, it is a rating or accolade given for the watch’s accuracy.
A chronograph on the other hand is a timepiece that, in addition to the normal time telling functions, also performs a separate time measuring function such as a stop watch—with a separate seconds hand which can be started, stopped and reset to zero, via push-buttons on the side of the case. Please do not confuse ‘chronographs’ with ‘complications’ (which are described below). While a/l chronographs can be considered complications, not all complications are in fact chronographs.
What do “complications” mean when referring to a wristwatch?
A complication is described as any additional function the wristwatch performs beyond basic time telling (i.e. hour, minute and second). A common example of wristwatch complications are calendar models which display the day/date. Additional complications include chronograph models, whereas the watch performs like a basic ‘stop watch’ (as described above). Other complications worth mentioning are: second time zone, moonphase and alarms.
What does it mean by a ‘jeweled movement’?
A jeweled movement refers to precious stones (typically synthetic sapphires, or rubies), which are used on the movement in key pivot points to reduce friction, thus reducing wear. This is due to the hardness of the jewel which will not wear out when under constant friction from the metal parts.
The idea was introduced over three hundred years ago, and today is used in most mechanical watch movements. The more common configuration is a 17 jewel movement, however, more complicated watches are often found with 29 jewels (or more). In fact, a rare example exists with a highly complicated movement featuring 76 jewels (i.e. TWC IT Destriero Scafusia). It is worth noting that movements were created in the 1 980s featuring upwards of 100 jewels, but upon closer examination, it was easily determined that most of the jewels were merely cosmetic.
When jeweled movements were first introduced they frequently used real (or natural) garnets or even diamonds. However, modern watch movements typically feature synthetic jewels, which are laboratory grown and are quite inexpensive to produce.
How many watches does Rolex produce each year?
Rolex doesn’t release exact numbers, however, according to industry estimates and considering the number of Chronometer certificates issued to Rolex over the past few years, it’s safe to assume that Rolex produces somewhere between 650,000 to 700,000 watches annually. On the other hand, it is believed that counterfeiters produce ten times that number!
Information found from “The Rolex Report”, revised and expanded 4th edition by John E. Brozek.