Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dialing by the Numbers: Times New Roman times XII

Do you have a wristwatch with Roman numerals marking the hours?  Have you wondered about the variety of font styles available for a dial designer to use for the markings?  Actually, with our word processing and graphics programs today, it’s easy to select a font style for Roman numerals to use on dials  since they can be created using letters (e.g. “I,” “V,” “X”).

One of the typical conventions that you’ll find on dials with Roman numerals is the use of “IIII” instead of “IV” to mark the fourth hour.  Although there are wonderful speculations in the horology community about why this is done, the most sensible one seems to be for reasons of optical symmetry. All numerals on a dial’s face are in balance with each other except for four and eight if they are expressed as “IV” and “VIII.”  “VIII” becomes the heavy weight to the lighter weight “IV.” To restore a pleasing, facial balance, “IIII” becomes the solution.  
Since I use Microsoft WORD 2010, I’ve selected eleven other fonts along with Times New Roman to demonstrate a small selection of possible Roman numeral dial “eye candy.”  As you can see, some are much more visually digestible than others! 

Times New Roman:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII.
Ar Blanca:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII.  

Ar Cena:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII. 

Blackadder ITC:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII.
Book Antiqua:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII.

Castellar:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII.
French Script:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII.
Informal Roman:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII. 

Lucida Calligraphy: I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII. 
Niagara Engraved: I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII.  

Veranda:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII

Vladimir Script:  I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII.  

If you are really a font aficionado, check out Da Font which has over 23,600 of them!

Do you have a favorite Roman numeral font or a photo of a wristwatch face with Roman numerals you’d like to share?  If so, send it along as a comment.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Time To Pause: Michael Korda and Marking Time

Many people are familiar with the author, Michael Korda and his books such as Power! How to Get It, How to Use It (1975) or Horse People (2009).  As a librarian, I am particularly fond of his Making the List:  A Cultural History of the American Bestseller, 1900-1999 (2001). 

However, since starting this blog in January 2014, I have discovered another of his works, Marking TIME: Collecting Watches—and Thinking about Time (New York:  Barnes & Noble Books, 2004).  It’s a real gem, or should I say cabochon!  It has just the right take on time, sensible yet strikingly passionate in its discussion on watches, collecting, and being taken in by time.

Two passages absolutely captured where I am in my journey as this blog’s writer.  I’m sharing them with you, even if you are not enamored by watches, let alone wristwatches or think you are not interested in collections or collecting.

 “A collection, whatever its nature, not only comforts and pleases, but stabilizes, pins the collector down in time and space, anchors him, so to speak, and provides a readily available source of order and purpose, even during moments when life is at its most meaningless and difficult.” (p.110)

“The key to collecting is desire, the desire to possess certain specific objects that stimulate our interest, our fantasies, or our preconceptions about beauty.  But desire alone is not enough; desire must be accompanied by a strong sense of personal choice, a reason to pick or value one object instead of another, an informed choice of period, style, and aesthetics, a certain structure and order.” (p. 110)

One of my ongoing goals is to decide what it is in the world of wristwatches that will define my collection, if I move on to collecting. 
Do either or both of these passages resonant with you?  If so, let me know how and what you decided to collect whether it be related to horology or another area you enjoy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Quartz Crystal Watches – The Revolution of “Good Vibrations”

Look at your watch dial.  Does it say “Quartz” on it? Maybe not, but it’s still probably run by a quartz crystal driven by battery power.   Think of it as the Campbell’s® soup can in your kitchen.  It delivers  dependable flavor time after time and yet as a commodity is iconic in its commonality. 
But did you know that when you wear one, you are part of a technological revolution that irrevocably changed the watch industry?  The first battery-driven watch in production appeared in 1957.  It was made by the American company, Hamilton and called the Hamilton 500.
 Over the next decade or so, many Swiss companies with their centuries old tradition of manufacturing highly prized mechanical watches fell far behind the Japanese and Hong Kong manufacturers in embracing quartz technology.  The technology is one of the major disruptive innovations in the 20th Century.  Switzerland’s export of its mechanical watches dropped from 40 million in 1973 to only 3 million a decade later. Not surprisingly, the Swiss watch industry’s labor force took a similar hit going from about 90,000 workers in 1970 to 47,000 ten years later. 
 I’m more poet than practitioner, but here is my technical take on what happens with a quartz watch.  Inside the watch casing is a small crystal of quartz. It can be natural or synthetic rock crystal and is usually supported inside a metal holder and sealed in a vacuum.  It has a certain size and shape and has been accurately cut along certain axes so it can be vibrated at a known, stable frequency when an alternating current is supplied to it. The current comes from a battery through an integrated circuit.  The converted electronic impulse drives the time keeping.

The lyrics  for “Good Vibrations,” the 1966 #1 song by the Beach Boys nicely sum up the synergy between the quartz crystal and the battery:

I’m picking up good good vibrations
(Good good good good vibrations)
She’s giving me the excitations

Followed by several repetitive two line chorus lines:

Gotta keep those lovin’ good
Vibrations a happenin’ with you

So when you hear this Beach Boy’s golden oldie, look at your quartz dial and smile—your part of the legacy of time a hand!

And if you have a photo ( right-free or willing to give permission in exchange for courtesy attribution to publish) of a Hamilton 500 or a  Bulova Accutron  which followed the Hamilton into the market in 1960, send it along to me in a comment and I’ll post it as an update to this summary.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ad Venture Begets Luxurity

One of the prerogatives I have as a blog writer is the license to create new words to express myself. So, I’ve added luxurity to my blog’s description line, “Advancing the Lore, Legacy, Luxurity and Love of Time at Hand” — luxurity meaning being luxurious or having luxury.  It comes from a personal dictionary that’s as tall as I am!

The impetus to create this linguistic form came from a recent advertisement featuring Kate Winslet for Longines® that appeared on the back cover of Time magazine’s February 17th issue. The ad is predominantly black and white.  It contains Ms. Winslet's signature under the statement, “Elegance is an attitude.” Her head shot along side that of a horse are centered above the company name Longines® and its trademark, a flying hour glass. You can see her image although not the full ad on the company website.

The ad triggered an interest in Longines®, as a brand which has successfully combined a celebrity, a thoroughbred, and a specific watch model, the Conquest Classic in one iconic image.  I particularly like how the watch’s circular, diamond set bezel visually restates the hoop clasp on the horse’s bridle in the ad.

A morning’s research in the library and on the web turned up some back story elements of the ad’s components:

  • ·     The first Longines® factory was built in 1867 in an area known as “Les Longines,” literally “the long meadows” in Switzerland.

  • ·      Longines® has had a long association with promoting and sponsoring elite equestrian  events and even has films on its website showcasing these.
  •   ·    The Longines® trademark has an hour glass centered between two outstretched delineated wings. For me, the use of it flying towards the viewer in the ad is reminiscent of  Pegasus, a divine winged stallion.  A spirited winner all around! 

  • ·      Kate Winslet is one of Longines® eleven individual “Ambassadors,” joining six other women.

  • ·     The Classic Conquest has been a staple of the company product line since 1954.  Although the one pictured in the ad is the women’s version, a more complicated men’s version is also available.  (Complications are covered in my "Face It -- It's Complicated" blog post.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Ad Venture musings!

Add your musings to mine. What wristwatch advertisements have resonated with you in terms of luxurity?

Update, March 3, 2014:  One of the websites I've just started following is the jewelleryeditor.  As a serendipitous follow-on to my post yesterday,  the editor of the website, Maria Doulton, showcased a feature about Ralph Lauren and his use of an equestrian stirrup  petite link design. Equestrian  design aficionados are moving from head to foot!