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Gonville Bromhead

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About Gonville Bromhead

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  1. Given the almost complete equanimity which greeted my first effort into this project, I have been inspired to produce a sequel. You only have your self to blame. You didn’t ask for it. (5)…..continued. The Diving Bezel. Originally found on the Blancpain 50 Fathoms in 1952 and replicated on the Rolex Submariner the following year. In 1959 (I believe) Rolex first broke down the 1-15 sector into minutes. It is this model and this ubiquitous today. This scheme of measurement worked well in the early 1950’s but a decade later diving had moved on. Thus, when you look at the Omega Seamaster produced for military use in 1969 all the minutes are etched on the bezel. Indeed, modern diving standards insist on this: ISO 4625 (DIN 8306)(See the current Rolex Deep Sea for an example). I believe that the first unidirectional bezel was introduced on the Certina Ds-2 in 1968. In any case, a modern professional diver would use a diver computer, so it doesn’t really make any difference anyway (although there is never a problem having analogue ‘back-up’ in my experience) Whenever you trust it, modern technology tends to let you down. However, my 2 pence on this is as follows: When it comes to bezels and what is on them, “less means more.” Indeed, the IWC Dive watch that it designed for the German Navy only had the luminous dot on it and no more. When you think about, how much more do you need.? OK, a bit more, but not much. (6). The tachymetre. To really appreciate this ‘app.’ you really need an ever so slightly modified Delorean, and, ideally, to be Germany. Once back in, say, 1936 enjoying the growth of the burgeoning Luftwaffe, you can peak out whilst during take off and observe the stakes hammered into the ground at regular intervals by the side of the runway. By using these as your measures, you can work out your airspeed. Useful should your control panel suddenly cease to function. However, if that happens knowing your airspeed is probably the least of your problems. Of course, you can also use it for measuring ground speed (ie your speed past stakes in the ground every kilometre etc). However, you would have to be going at a fare lick (because the lowest denomination on the tachymetre is normally ‘60’ at the ’12.’) Secondly, shouldn’t you really be concentrating on driving? You might also use your speedometer whilst we are on the subject. Anyway, it is because of the above that the the Omega ‘Speedmaster’ gets its name (introduced in 1957, movement designed by Lemania, 1942). If you are interested in working out average speed there is actually a much easier way of doing it. It involves using the milometre on your car and the 3, 6, or 9 significations on your minute timer on the chronograph. However, as you have probably already lost the will to live I will save that for another time. Or perhaps not. (7). The ‘slide rule’ outer scale. Found, famously, on the Breitling Navitimer, first introduced in 1952. The watch was adopted, soon after, by the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilot’s Association. Pilots of that era had a big version of this slide rule which they could use back at base. The Navitmer just gave them a smaller version as back-up. You could use it for making in-flight calculations to gauge, for example, how much fuel remained in relation to miles already travelled, or at what speed, related to the total journey time, the plane should flying. Great stuff!! Many years ago I remember fiddling in by Dad’s desk. There I chanced upon a slide rule. It was an absolutely stunning ‘bit of kit’ and complicated beyond all belief. I removed the dust off it and took it to him to ask more questions about it. “Oh,” he said, “that old thing. As an engineer I used to use that all the time. I have not needed to touch it in years.” I asked him to show me how it worked. “Oh not a clue son. It’s one of those things that if you use it every day, you remember. Yet put it down and neglect it and the skill just goes.” Likewise, one suspects, with the Navitimer. I notice the one that Simon Cowell wears. I don’t suppose he has ever had to worry about calculating his fuel consumption as against the speed of his Bentley. Still, for ‘coolness,’ if not for use, it has to get five male fantasy stars. (8). I have saved the best till last: The Helium Escape Valve. The story goes that in the 1960s a French firm (Comex) were managing offshore drilling operations for big oil companies. Its deep-sea divers were encountering a problem with their Submariners. The crystal kept popping off. So Comex took them to Rolex in the hope that they might be able to resolve the problem. Curious, at roughly the same time, the same problem was happening to Japanese divers who were asking Seiko to solve the problem. Back to Rolex: Their Oyster water resisting system behaved perfectly but during long periods of deep water/high pressure dives (which diving bells made possible) helium gas permeated the crystal of the watches and, after the wearer surface, was unable to escape, hence the crystal flying across the room. To remedy this problem Rolex fitted the watch (the 1967 Sea Dweller Ref 1665) with a helium escape valve. This would protect the watch during periods of decompression which would involve a mixture of helium, hydrogen and other gases. Yet remember, it was only in 1979 that Rolex replaced Plexiglas crystals with ones made of Sapphire. Lovely. As for Seiko, back then in the 1960s when faced with the same problem they just built better gaskets and re-engineered the watch to higher tolerances and used, wait for it, Hardex crystal. Problem solved! Hence the Marine Master of today does not have or need a Helium Escape valve. Anyway, if you are regularly making trips in your diving bell down the Mariana Trench, then this is really a “must” for you. Better still, you could actually put it to some proper use by following the example of 007. Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye (1995) used the laser in the Omega Seamaster Professional HEV to make a hole to get himself out of a train. Could happen? Good luck with it mate. Helium Escape Valves, in one word: Ridiculous.
  2. Most of us, me included ,lead rather dull prosaic lives. It seems to me that watches provide a degree of escapism. ‘Escapism’ in a strictly Walter Mitty-type way that is. They suggest that there is still hope that we are good for something. That we might still be needed for that important mission which involves something slightly more than picking up two pints of milk at the corner shop. Although we might have long ago abandoned the notion (if reluctantly) that we might be picked for our national team at sport, there is always the off-chance of adventures to come. Adventures, be they at the ocean depths, at the top of a mountain, in space, or at a bar in Casablanca drinking a Dry Martini in a tailored Dinner Jacket. That’s the ticket. It could just still be around the next corner. You just don’t know. Looking at your wrist every now and then at a shiny new toy can help convince you that this might be so. It could just be your turn next. Timing is everything. (1). The ‘James Bond’ watch. Not long ago I was in a pub and the subject of James Bond came up. The barmaid just dismissed the whole genre with a flick of her cloth: “Oh, just a male fantasy. Can’t be doing with that m’self.” I was quite shocked. I mean, that was my youth she was talking about. Hell, never mind youth, that was a bit of me now too! Look at it like this. James Bond is handsome. In fact, if you turn the light off on a dark night, close your eyes and put yourself under the sheets, I could almost pass myself off as 007. Well, as long as I don’t say anything or appear in the same jurisdiction that is. Women love him. Well, what can I say? He goes to exotic places. He has no children, mortgage, wife or in-laws to worry about. Of course, he almost did, but on On Her Majesty’s Secret Serviceshe (Tracy). was bumped off on the way to the honeymoon. Just think what fun and games and Christmas and Easter jollities he missed out on with this aristocratic/shady mafia in-laws? Lucky….. Oh and no parental responsibilities. No, “Dad, when are we getting there yet?” from the back of the car. “Dad, I need the toilet. Now” No nativity plays, no music lessons, no parents evenings, no university open days. None of this stuff. Indeed, as I type this the cry has gone up from downstairs “Urrrgh, Dad, the dog’s just been sick on the carpet again. Could you come down and clear it up.” James Bond had Moneypenny to do this sort of thing. Wife, children etc are great (of course) but then, so is escapism. Oh yes, and the gadgets, including cars. What hetrosexual male is not (at heart) a ‘gadget junkey?’ Indeed, what is a watch if not a gadget? The other thing is: James Bond and what he does are important.He helps save the world etc. “Dear, which one of these shade of mauve suits me best do you think. For this dress I mean?” ‘Uhm, the first one.” This is the third dress shop that we have now been in. The answer “I don’t give a ****, just pick one and let’s go. I have the credit card in my hand now!!” simply will not go down well. What makes it worse is that this is the same woman who does not trust you (probably rightly) to pick out a tie for yourself. “Look love: Blue trousers….blue tie. What’s the problem??” “Different shadesof blue dear. They are on different parts of the aqua axis.” So why on earth should she value your opinion when it comes to picking a dress, soft furnishings etc etc. Well, of course, she doesn’t. You just have to suffer the process. This never EVER happens to jimbo. He is involved in things that shape the world. So do I want to be ‘James Bond for a Day.’ Damned right I do!! A ‘male fantasy’, well yes, but why not. If having the Rolex or Omega that a fictional character never actually worn brings me a taste of that – pathetic though it might be – then why the hell not. I am such a gift to marketing departments in this respect. As long as part of us laughs at ourselves for being quite so silly and self-indulgent, it is OK. (2). Depth rating. Am I ever going to go down 1000, 500, 300, 100 metres? No, not if I have anything to do with it. In fact my only chance of reaching these depths would be if I upset the local mafia boss and found myself cast off the bridge with a concrete block tied to my ankles. One feels that then, knowing the time, would not be my first priority. The deepest I have ever been in water is probably about 3 metres. That does nicely for me. Not that I am dismissing depth rating. It means you can leave your watch on and not have to take it off on holiday. You can wear it in the bath or the shower. No, this is a good feature. It also suggests that if the watch can take the pressure of 300 metres etc, then it must be a tough, well-engineered piece of kit. Nothing wrong with that. In short, yes, male fantasy but, it is also linked with practical sound sense in normal life. (3). The race for precision: The chronograph. After the ‘date’ feature on a watch, the two other ‘aps’ for watches are the chronograph, and the dual time. How many times do you use it? No, honestly. To boil an egg? Fine. Personally I find a bezel of the watch is accurate enough. I remember the first time I saw a chronograph. I was about eight and a neighbour of ours in the cul-de-sac where I lived (near Cowbridge) showed me his watch. It was like being shown a computer for the first time. It was wonderful and it was a chronograph. Why did he have one and need one? Simple,: He was a coach for the local professional Rugby Union team. Fair one. Yet, except for a few rare instances, are we not just kidding ourselves that we need that much precision? Indeed, if on the off-chance you did, surely you would get one of those nasty quartz stopwatches that you can put around your neck and look like a PE/Geography teacher of old. You will also need an old track suit to pull this off properly. Perhaps I am being unfair. Sometimes (rarely) precision in important. A perfect example of this need for precision was given by our cousins in Space on Apollo 13 and their desire get the exact trajectory before they could fire the lunar module descent engine. To get this right they had to get precisely the right time (otherwise they are doomed to die a horrible death in outer space). Yes, but there is a much better example of when such precision is important. Naturally the best example of this need for precision is given by a Welshman in Buenos Aires in 1978. Interestingly, like James Lovell eight years earlier, our hero was also wearing a Speedmaster Moon Watch. Run tellycine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRe1D_md1SI Poor Clive never got anything like a Snoopy award for this one (sadly). Thing is, although I’m not doing much next week, I suspect that it is quite unlikely that I will be either involved in a luna orbit drama or be waiting for a corner kick in a time, long ago, when referees wore nice watches. (4). ‘Where in the world am ?” Dual Time. The third watch ‘app.’ Useful for giving the impression and you do not spend all your life sitting on a sofa watching daytime television in Dagenham. But are you only fooling yourself? Essential for pilots and for those who also travel a lot and are even worse at maths than I am. Possibly an ‘app’ too far to convince yourself that might one day be an airline pilot or Richard Branson on a occasion when he might be fleeing from Interpol (well, you never know!) (5). The diving bezel. Now don’t be silly. I use mine all the time. Not for diving you understand but just for measuring general intervals of time. I also use it to remind myself of what time I should be doing something. A great bit of kit and I would not now have a wristwatch without one. Thanks for reading. I am naturally interested in your opinions on the above points ladies and gentlemen.
  3. Hi chaps, No debate about the quality of the Grand Seiko Quartz 9F movement or the early Seiko movements. Great pieces of kit. However, if it were me I would look at any of the ETA 955 series 7 jewel movements (ie the 955.112) In my experience they are extremely accurate (+ 1 second a month) and incredibly good value for the money. The 955.112 was the ebauche for Omega, Sinn, Tutima and CWC back in the day. They are still available for a reasonably modest price. The key is to find out 'what's inside.' Unfortunately most modern Swiss quartz watches contain a Ronda (ie the 715LI). They do have the advantage of a 5 year (as opposed to a 2-3 year) battery life. However, in all other respects that are not a patch on the ETA 955s in this chap's opinion. Another example - applied to technology - of Gresham's Law in operation.
  4. The great thing about watches is not what they are, but where they take you. For example,.....to maps in this instance. Some great maps of Ynys Mon, The County Palatine of Lancaster and Bury (home of the best market in the country). Thanks RWP and mcb2007 Must show you both my etchings some time.
  5. Well Badgersdad, Fair point... It started with watches (likes and dislikes). You are free to lead the way and bring it back on track. Let me give it push: Anything manufactured by Hublot.
  6. ERRATUM In my original message I mistakenly used the word ******. I, of course, should have used the word ****. I hope that serves to clarify matters.
  7. I put this here (as opposed to another part of the forum) simply because one of my prejudices (of the admittedly 'silly' variety) involves watches. Prejudice means (as you all know) 'pre-judgment.' It means that you see one detail and you therefore come to a conclusion about the whole. This is either confirmed or otherwise by experience. My silly prejudices: (1). Rectangular watches. No, I don't mean (say) the Tank Watch (PofW wears one of those on a leather strap - he's alight). No, I mean the big, stretched watches. In my experience (reinforced time and again sadly) the wearer is sure to be a ******. I concede that this may not always be so: Could have been a gift etc. But as a rule............ (2). By extension - people who think stretched limos are 'classy,' Say no more. (3). Sorry, cars again, Volvo Estates (or 'Shootingbrakes' as my father would call them). Not so much the car, but rather the people who elect to drive them. Especially those with a fish symbol on the back. I think they must believe that they are insured by God. When I see one of these on the motorway, I actually move lanes to get away. As I say, merely SILLY prejudices. Just ones sadly borne out of much experience. Do have any?? Oh and don't start with '...I don't like people with silly prejudices.' Not funny and not clever. We ALL have them.
  8. Mr Levity writes: "My eldest daughter has eagle eyes and always notices a new one." Same here.... same here!! What makes wives not notice and daughters notice. Strange eh?
  9. Hi Mr Levity, J.W. Benson eh. Really good pieces of kit in my experience. About 10 years ago I bought a J.W. Benson watch from a flee-market in Oxford. Didn't fancy buying another flea so I bought the watch instead. Opened the beauty up only to discover that its movement was manufactured by Jaeger Lecoute. Not a bad purchase for 3 squids. Good luck with your collecting.
  10. Should I really get into this knotty debate? Oh b*gger it, yes. (1). Let's be charitable. Somebody works hard for a living and does well. They want to buy beautiful things and, yes, they want others to know they have been successful. They go out and buy a Rolex. You know what: Good luck to them. I am not (by the way) being patronising here. There are many OTHER good reasons to buy a Rolex. But you know, we should not discount this one either. Life is crap enough; if an object gives someone a happy smile when they look at it, that's just fine by me. (2). I'll be frank: I can't afford to buy one. I can't afford to a quarter of one. Would I resent someone who could? No way. If I could, would I buy one? Yes, I would buy one as a present for someone who would appreciate it (which means virtually everybody not on this forum by the look of things). Would I get one for myself? Oh yes: An old Rolex doctor's watch. Very classy! Let's not lose sight of the watch that Rolex do mass produce (1,000,000 a year a thereabouts). Yet who could deny the quality? They are and always have been great pieces of kit. (3). "They're not worth the money!" Yes of course, the margin is HUGE. As it is on ANY high-end watch (or car, or boat or house etc). Yet let's not forget that they are (almost) unique in the watch world for not only keeping their value, but increasing it. So, in all likelihood, money well spent. I am sure that all the above has been already said but, what the hell.
  11. What an excellent question RWP. First, I think I should count myself out. I resolved many years ago that I should not collect anything. Now I wish all of you collectors all the very best. However, I have always regarded actual collecting as some form of displacement therapy. That is: Jamie collects porcelain elephants because: (a) he does not know what to do with himself on a Sunday; (b) one can only play with oneself for so long AND.....God, is that the time....doesn't it drag. Could be finding a cure for cancer: Can't/won't do that. Thus, collects the elephants instead. BUT, I must confess to enjoying LOOKING at watches (ie watch porn). Very cost effective, very social and it still can fill the gap mentioned in the previous paragraph. For example, the 710 says that she desires to go shopping in, say, the centre of Stoke (say). Fantastic (I agree), see you back at the car park in three hours dear. I will then proceed drift and linger outside watch shops (yes, jsud2002, I'm standing just next to you). Still no nearer the cure for cancer (sadly). What inspired this interest in watch porn? Very simple: it was when my parents took me to see (all those years ago), Live and Let Die at the cinema in Bridgend. Imagine having a watch (the fact that it was a Rolex was completely lost on me), THAT (a) cut rope, (b) deflected stray bullets and (c) (best of all) enabled you to unzip Maddy Smith's dress in a wardrobe whilst you were snogging her. This is living!!! Oh it's good to be alive!!!! I have never quite made it to this Nirvana yet (nowhere bloody near actually). However, I am encouraged by the statement that 'every map should have Utopia marked on it.'
  12. It's a point.... yes. The point being that a watch is readily understood as a consumer durable (like a spin dryer or a microwave). That is the normal perception. But why could it not be (ideally) like a landscape garden? You tell the gardener what you would like - he umms and ahrrrs - comes back with some alternative suggestions based upon his expertise and experience and, you agree on what you are both happy with. Worked for Capability Brown.
  13. As has already been rather wittily pointed out, that, to some degree, is the Joy of Roy (sequel to the Joy of Sex apparently). A watch that, to a degree at least, is to your specs. How many people will have a watch likes yours? Moreover, you have a watch that meets your needs and not just generic requirements. I like that!!
  14. Oh right. So this is for you then. This is the 'old black'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc6rbEt7Xwc
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