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Not all watches are grey at night
From ancient times the night and darkness were considered to be something mysterious, even frightening, something that hid many unknown things and phenomena. The darkness screens us off from surrounding world, full of colors, drops its wide curtain on faces and things. As it’s known, the man can’t see well in darkness that is proved by many phrases and expressions, thought out by resourceful inventors: “all cats are grey at the night”, “it is pitch-dark”, “can’t see a yard in front of me”, “Cimmerian gloom”, so on. That’s why long since people have been trying to break loose from grip of darkness and gloom, inventing various sources of light – first candles, petroleum lamps, then electric lighting fixtures. The problem of time definition at dark hours or in dark place bothered people long time ago, since appearance of first watches. Then a smart man invented tower striking clock, which oriented people in time space, striking the current time through certain time intervals. But, of course, such technological wonders were not available for ordinary people, who kept on measuring hours and minutes with the help of solar watches at day-time and getting lost in specific time black hole at night-time. No doubt, the creation of “house watches”, striking the time in set intervals or even “at request” of owner, brought humanity a step forward to solution of “dark” problem of time. But to make watches, changed from wall and pocket into wrist ones, shine in full darkness, as a saving lighthouse, seemed to be incredible task. However, watching an impetuous development of modern technologies, chemistry, physics and other sciences, one can feel that nothing is impossible in our world. And even if anything hasn’t been invented or discovered by “brainy” scientists, it will be designed and studied by next generation of geniuses. Especially that a wrist watch, shining in darkness, is not an incredible invention, but rather usual “scientific ruse” each man can grip. That’s what we’re going to do – we’ll try to understand how mechanical wrist watches stay within sight. So, let’s blow out candles, turn off the light…
Some facts from physics
Photoluminescence and glowworm
“Terrorist” on wrist
Safe radioluminescence. Myth or reality?
To wear or not to wear? That is the question.
Men wrist watch “Panerai Luminor Chrono Daylight PAM 356”
An attentive reader undoubtedly remembers about aforementioned fact that wrist watches with luminescent elements are very popular among divers, and also such watches are irreplaceable elements of military equipments. So, in 1930s the leadership of Italian Navy addressed to watch company “Panerai” (then “Guido Panerai & Figlio”), famous for its luminescent timers for mines and torpedos and for luminescent depth-gauges, compasses, submarine detonators, sighting devices and remote controllers for torpedo apparatus. The specialists of Panerai faced a difficult task – to create high-accurate water-resistant, luminescent watch for real men. Then the powder “Radiomir” to luminesce points and scales of men wrist watches indeed. Our dear reader, already acquainted with tricks of such phenomenon, as luminescence, remembers that unique radioactive power was replaced by safer mixture, based on tritium – Luminor, at the end of 1950s. Despite that “Radiomir” watches from Panerai turned out to be dangerous for health, the collectors and fans of military watches from all over the world arranged a real race for those legendary watches even after the Second World War. Of course, as nothing will stop real men! However, as the Panerai CEO Angelo Bonatti admitted in one of his interview, most remained and dangerous watches “Radiomir” were immured in hermetic concrete container and sent to the bottom of Mediteranean Sea. The new Italian wrist watches “Panerai Luminor” remained the same heroic devices, only more improved. Today the specialists of the company use absolutely safe luminescent mixture, based on Super-LumiNova, in wrist watches “Luminor” and “Radiomir”, but the traditional design of accessories didn’t changed at all. Among latest luminescent novelties of 2011 from Panerai we can distinguish men wrist watch “Luminor Chrono Daylight PAM 356” with historic design and all elements, creating the form-factor of this watch, well-known by Italian fans of the company. The men wrist watch “Panerai Luminor Chrono Daylight PAM 356” is a lightly changed and improved version of watch that “showed up” at wrist of unconquerable Silvestre Stallone in the film “Daylight” of 1995. The actor, by the way, is one of the main fans of Panerai. The polished case and bezel from stainless steel of high quality make PAM 356 more impressive and sporty interpretation of original model. The readability is provided by round dial, lack of too many elements, with laconic indexes-sticks. The luminescence of dial indexes and hands is provided by safe coating “Super-LumiNova” of unbleached linen color that creates an attractive effect of antiquity. The only thing – steel back case, which hides the unique movement from Panerai – may upset a bit. But we’ll go through it, as the watch “Luminor Chrono Daylight PAM 356” has many things to look at. The model of wrist watches “Panerai Luminor Chrono Daylight PAM 356” is equipped with black leather strap with stitching and rubber strap. With the help of mini-screwdriver, enclosed with watch, the owner can easily replace the strap if necessary. The adjustable buckle of strap is made of stainless steel in traditional style of Panerai. A few words about movement. The self-winding movement of caliber OP XII works on 27 jewels with frequency of 28 800 alterations per hour. The bridges of movement with 46-hour power reserve are decorated in style of Côtes de Genève, and the anti-shock system “Incabloc®” protects the watch heart from environment. Only the most necessary functions: hours, minutes, supplementary second dial (at “9 hours”), date aperture (between “4” and “5” hours), two chronograph counters (at “6 hours” and “3 hours”) and tachometric scale. The diameter of 100-m water-resistant steel case is relatively small for men watch of Panerai – 44 mm, and the date regulator is situated at “10 hours”. An interesting steel pressure mechanism of crown, specific for all watches “Panerai Luminor”, gives specific individuality to wrist watch. The ultrastrong sapphire glass, protecting the dial with its mysterious luminescent points, is a finishing touch in this portrait. So, the watchmakers of Panerai have proved that darkness can also be beautiful when it hides the light.
Men wrist watch “Anonimo Crono Militare” (REF.2017)
Besides legendary manufactory “Panerai”, the issue of possible “night time reading” is brought up by relatively young Italian watch company “Anonimo”. Each model of wrist watches from this Florentine company is unique, as all watch collections of Anonimo enjoy popularity at the modern watch market for a reason. Such phenomenon, like luminescence, is paid much attention by specialists of this Italian manufactory, who follow old traditions. On the whole it should be noted that a military style is clearly traced in main products of Florentine watch brands, such as Panerai, Anonimo, U-Boat and others. As initially the watches of these manufacturers were created for the Italian Navy and included in equipment of brave divers, the question about luminescent hands and scales on dials didn’t come to mind at all. As an example of incredible style and accuracy from Anonimo we can take the men wrist watch from “Militare” collection – “Anonimo Crono Militare” (REF.2017). So, let’s start from the beginning – from “heart” of wrist watch, designed by Anonimo specialists on the base of caliber ETA 2892'2. The self-winding movement “DUBOIS DEPRAZ 2035” has a 40-hour power reserve and works on 47 jewels with frequency of 28 800 alterations per hour. The men wrist watches “Anonimo Crono Militare” are provided with following necessary functions: hours, minutes, seconds, date and chronograph. Three centrals hands are hour, minute and chronograph hands. The supplementary second dial is at “9 hours”, the supplementary minute dial – at “3 hours”, the hour dial – at “12 hours”, the date aperture is situated at “6 hours”, the chronograph button – at “9 hours”. The round case of wrist watch of 43,4 mm diameter is made of stainless steel AISI 316, which contains 20-27 % of chromium and small percentage of carbon. We remind our reader that case of Anonimo watch is unique, as it is cut from blanks. It is a kind of visiting card of Italian company, which is the only watch manufactory, creating its cases in this way. The back case is treated by OX-PRO – a complicated finishing process, preventing from steel oxidation and corrosion, carried out by qualified specialists at molecular level. The face side of case underwent double surface polishing (Drass), as a result the steel acquired dark color, reminding of titanium color. The patented system of Anonimo “The Crown Vanishing Locking Device”, protecting the crown at “6” hours from moisture penetration into movement, became a specific feature of “Militare” collection. The dial is covered by dome-shaped sapphire glass, and the transparent back case shows the unique movement. All aforementioned innovations of Italian watch company “Anonimo” provide water resistance of cases at up to 120 meters. The dial of Anonimo Crono Militare with incredible luminescence has deep black color. The hour indexes and Arab numerals are treated by luminescent substance “Super-LumiNova” (the watchmakers cared about safety by excluding the use of tritium. The hands are also luminescent, as well as the hands of supplementary dials, made in the form of leaves. We can’t create a full image of men wrist watch “Anonimo Crono Militare” without describing the strap, which is also designed with many distinguished features from Anonimo innovator. So, the strap of this watch, made of thinnest calf leather, is treated by Kodiak solution. Kodiak is a patented design of the company, which makes the strap especially water resistant. The main feature, distinguishing this solution from other similar water-resistant substances, is that it doesn’t reduce natural leather porosity and compromise transpiration properties. So, the men wrist watch “Anonimo Crono Militare” can be in water for a long time, up to 24 hours, that won’t influence on either movement, or strap quality. The leather strap with style stitching is equipped with reliable steel buckle with engraved logo of Anonimo. No doubt, all “military” watches are based on “three pillars” of watch manufacture – Quality, Reliability and Accuracy. At that the Italian wrist watches “Anonimo Crono Militare” strongly rely on all “pillars” and are irreplaceable companions of real men in any conditions, even in full darkness. The watch company “Anonimo” works according to the principle: “don’t fight with darkness, just let the light in – and it will disappear”.
Men wrist watch “Azimuth Xtreme-1”
Let’s digress for a while from Italian watch giants to value unique style and excellent quality of wrist watches, created by Swiss watchmakers. The Swiss watch company “Azimuth” receives many accolades from watch connoisseurs with issue of each new wrist watch collection. It should be said that masterpieces of Azimuth don’t leave anyone indifferent. According to one of many fans of Swiss manufactory, the men wrist watches “Azimuth” are simply excellent, although they all are “a bit strange”. For example, the famous collection “Azimuth Xtreme-1”, released in 2010, includes three models of unique, maybe, a kind of “strange” watches: Azimuth SEA-HUM 3TZ (three time zones), Azimuth SEA-HUM GMT and Azimuth Xtreme Deep Diver. If we tell our reader about one of models from this collection, the image of perfect collection won’t be complete, that’s why we’ll see all three models from Azimuth. This “trinity” was designed and created in honor of famous Mexican researcher Fernando Lozano, who conquered the Licancabur volcano in Chili (the height is about 6000 meters) and the Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico (about 5000 meters). One of his recent achievements was conquest of Ojos Del Salado at the border of Argentina and Chili (about 6900 meters), and diving into deepest crater. Besides, between his conquests of heights and depths, Lozano closely collaborated with the company “Azimuth” and took active part in design of watches for fans of extreme kinds of sport – of collection “Azimuth Xtreme”. In the beginning of collaboration with Swiss manufactory Fernando Locano avowed that such watch, like Azimuth Xtreme, would become an irreplaceable element of his personal research equipment. So, the first “extreme” model is the wrist watch “Azimuth SEA-HUM 3TZ” with function of three time zones display and water resistance of up to 500 meters. The men wrist watch “Azimuth SEA-HUM GMT” allows reading the time in two time zones and dive to 1500 meters. The Swiss watch “Azimuth Xtreme Deep Diver” has a specific feature – rectangular case from titanium, very rarely used by watchmakers while creating water-resistant watches. But the watchmakers from Azimuth found a solution and created unique hermetic capsule, where they put the Swiss movement ETA 2826 Big Date that provided high water resistance of wrist watch – up to 2000 meters. The wrist watches “Azimuth Xtreme Deep Diver” and “Azimuth SEA-HUM GMT” are equipped with modern device for deep-water watches – helium escape valve. All three models of wrist watches have 46 hours of power reserve, and two of them are provided with round case from stainless steel of 45 mm diameter. The thick ultrastrong sapphire glass with anti-glare treatment protects dials of wrist watches. The Swiss movement ETA 2836 (2836-2) works with frequency of 28800 alterations per hour. As you might already guess, SEA-HUM GMT and SEA-HUM 3TZ are similar to each other, but the first model is provided with “diver’s” bezel, and the second one, called the “emptiest” by critics (if watches from Azimuth could be called “empty” at all), is provided with 24-hour scale at bezel. Besides aforementioned functions, the models have standard watch functions – hours, minutes, seconds and date. The strap or the bracelet – it’s up to client. The farsighted Swiss watchmakers cared about that too. Now, we hope, you have a complete image of unique watches from “Xtreme” collection of Azimuth. Oh, by the way, the most important “we are here today” is the use of luminescence in watch industry. So, the collection “Azimuth” is an outstanding example of “cold light” in watch dial, the hands and indexes of which are treated by luminescent substance “Super-LumiNova”. Thanks to careful watchmakers for non-radioactive luminescence! Besides the opportunity to display current hour and other indexes in darkness, the luminescent substance “Super-LumiNova”, covering the bezel of wrist watches, makes watches especially mysterious. The invisible at daylight shining “eyes” of wrist watches seem to appear at darkness and see each minute, second and instant of elusive and “future-ward” time.
Men wrist watches Bell & Ross Vintage “BR 123 Carbon” and “BR 126 Carbon”
The Swiss watch company “Bell & Ross” actively makes its great contribution to creation of wrist watches, readable in pitch darkness. The watch collection “Vintage” was created to pay a tribute to military men, particularly to pilots of 1940s, who became the first to use wrist watches as working instruments. The watches, changed from pocket into wrist ones, were applied by pilots in performance of various missions. Following the mysterious spirit of vintage watches, the watchmakers of Bell & Ross created men wrist watches, striking by its simplicity, functionality and perpetual popularity, - they are men wrist watches “BR 123 Carbon” and “BR 126 Carbon”. It is more comfortable to consider these watches in pair, as they are undoubtedly similar in design as well as in movement. The Swiss watch company “Bell & Ross” managed to perfectly combine beauty of vintage style and asceticism of airplane cabin traditional control device design. And, you see, all this is combined in one model of wrist watch. Each detail of this watch serves as an outstanding prove. Let’s make it clear. First of all, the case of BR Carbon wrist watch, designed in vintage style, is crafted in stainless steel with black PVD treatment, protecting the priceless time meter from scratches, and carbon elements. The case is round that is estimated by experts as one of exceptions Bell&Ross dared. This company is famous around the world for its unique square wrist watches, became recognizable by almost all connoisseurs of haute horlogerie. In spite of past epoch style, the Swiss wrist watches “BR Carbon” will perfectly adorn wrist of any modern man and won’t create an old-fashioned image at all. Secondly, the dome-shaped sapphire glass with anti-glare coating, protecting the round dial, reminds of plane control panel (its glasses except any glares for data readability). And thirdly, the strap of light-brown natural leather with metallic black PVD-treated buckle is similar to strap of the first wrist watches, used by pilots in their hardest work. The thin bezel and wide dial don’t create sophisticated image, specific to women watches. On the contrary, the wrist watch has true man character. Going on. Let’s make ourselves digress from appearance of wrist watch “Bell & Ross”, no matter how difficult it wouldn’t seem, and remember the point we’ve started our story and admire the black dials of time meters. In connection with our theme we’re first of all interested in treatment of indexes, numerals and hands. In this case the watchmakers have also used safe phenomenon of photoluminescence and covered hands, numerals (there are only two of them) and hour indexes with luminescent substance Super-LumiNova. And the color of luminescent treatment is light-brown – it perfectly matches the color of strap. The classic round dial with clear indexes and points reminds of a watch, built in airplane control panel. It should be said that none of this watch photos can reflect accuracy and clearness of lines and perfectness of models performance. That’s why you should look at original pieces from Bell & Ros to value design craftsmanship in full. The wrist watches “BR 123 Carbon” and “BR 126 Carbon” are provided with Swiss self-winding movements ETA 2895 and ETA 2894 correspondingly. So, as for functions, everything is simple and genius here. The wrist watch “BR 123 Carbon” shows hours and minutes with the help of two central luminescent hands; the seconds are displayed at supplementary dial, situated at “6” hours; the date aperture is also at “6” hours. The model “BR 126 Carbon” differs from its pair only by one feature: its chronograph function is performed by central and 30-minute counter at “9” hours. The rest features are the same in two models. The men wrist watch (ref.126) displays hours and minutes by means of two central hands; the hand of supplementary dial at “3” hours counts seconds, and the date aperture is situated between “4” and “5” hours. So, the round case from stainless steel with PVD treatment of 41 mm diameter (a little bit less than the known square from Bell & Ross) has the water resistance of up to 100 meters. This collection “Bell & Ross” is a perfect example of Swiss watchmakers’ craftsmanship, and also combines unique characteristics and specific features of all watch masterpieces from Bell & Ross. The mechanical wrist watches “Bell & Ross Vintage Carbon” illustrate well the deep philosophy of company, which places priorities on clearness, intelligibility, functionality, accuracy and reliability. The critics have named this collection from Bell & Ross a matchless renaissance of timeless classics: it is something new and something old at the same time. And, frankly speaking, not every company, even most popular and qualified, is able to create such masterpiece, which is not influenced by constantly changing fashion.
Men wrist watch “Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II” (Ref. 216570 White)
Speaking about men wrist watches of Swiss quality, we can’t but mention such great watch company, which became a standard of watch perfectness and outstanding example of high style and unique design, as the Swiss manufactory “Rolex”. Moreover, if we talk about luminescence, the watch giant “Rolex” illustrates virtuosic mastery in this physical phenomenon, applying it in its “light” creations. On the threshold of watch exhibition “Basel World 2011” the legend of watch industry – Swiss watch company “Rolex” – issued a model of wrist watch that fascinated and won all watch world. This greatest event is presented by birth of excellent men wrist watch “Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II” (Ref. 216570 White) – a renewed heir of previous model “Explorer”, first issued in 1971. It is important that new wrist watch “Explorer” is a bit bigger, besides, it is provided with unique movement, no one ever seen in any model from Rolex, and finally the seconds are counted by orange hand, which became so “native and close” for fans even 40 year ago. But we won’t overleap. You can admire many photos of this model for hours, but you’ll never comprehend all beauty of this masterpiece. I always think that the most cherished dream of author is to turn his reader into spectator. So, dear reader, imagine that you’ve changed into admired spectator at the watch fair. Based on the name of watch, we can form an opinion that “Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II” is a kind of tribute of respect to old model of 70s, however such point of view is mistaken. The first “Rolex Explorer” was created in 1971 and since that time it has become an irreplaceable accessory of researchers-spelaeologists. The wrist watch of 2011 is a radically new stage of “Explorer” evolution, which undoubtedly has some retro-features. The case of wrist watch “Rolex Explorer II” is made of high-quality stainless steel 904 L and has rather big diameter – 42 mm (in comparison with first Explorer of 38 mm diameter. The water resistance – 100 meters; the fixed bezel is provided with 24-hour scale. The rectangular and round hour indexes and numerals are also very big (bigger than they were on masterpiece of 70s), and the hands are wide and clear that provide incredible readability. Whether you like this model or not – but it is really strong and energetic, and it is just what modern fans of elite wrist watches hunt for. The dial of Rolex Explorer II is white, lacquered (there is also a model with black dial, where hour and minute hands are finished in black color, which fades with color of dial, creating an effect of luminescent hands “phantom”). While new men wrist watch “Rolex Explorer II” has a famous “face”, an absolutely new “heart” beats inside the case. Explorer is equipped with self-winding movement of new generation, the last version of caliber 3187, including advanced technological achievements of Rolex: anti-shock system Paraflex, and nonmagnetic balance spiral Parachrom. The movement makes 28800 alterations per hour and works on 31 jewels, providing the power reserve of up to 48 hours. Thanks to these innovations, the wrist watch “Rolex Explorer II” has become ultrareliable and acquired high resistance to most powerful strikes. The 24-hour hand has kept its bright orange color and conic form, and the 12-hour hand is regulated independently that allows displaying the time of second time zone in combination with bezel and 24-hour hand. The big date aperture with magnifier, “ace” of Rolex, is situated at “3” hours. Here the most interesting thing comes – luminescence. It is clear that darkness hides all disadvantages of surrounding things, but Rolex Explorer II radiates bright and mysterious luminescence, claiming loudly that is has no disadvantage. The watchmakers of Swiss company applied latest development – safe luminescent substance Chromalight of long-lasting action, which significantly improves readability in darkness – on indexes and hands of its masterpiece. An even blue luminescence of dial is maintained during 8 hours. It is incredible but it is almost two times longer than luminescence of traditional luminescent substances. The Swiss wrist watches are equipped with steel Oyster-type bracelet with massive links in three rows with unfolding buckle and safety lock “Oysterblock”. The lengthening Easylink of 5 mm allows wearing this model on any wrist. So, an absolutely new and modern wrist watch “Rolex Explorer II”. Even in spite of orange hand, which almost hasn’t changed for 40 years, this model has nothing in common with vintage watches. Such amazing wrist “explorer” has replaced old generation, and no doubt, it will conquer both light and mysterious darkness of our world.
To be continued ...
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