FIFTEEN years ago, I really believed that the strides being made in CAD and CAM would result in an on-demand future rapidly prototyped into physical being. A future where designers would be king and a lot of products would be produced and assembled locally leading to a new wave of industrial revolution and infinite customization.

And while on-demand is not as pervasive as i thought it would be, companies like rvndsgn are halfway there. Industrial designer Zach Raven began his project to create the world’s first rapidly prototyped timepiece with the help of a Kickstarter campaign to finance his initial pieces. It has been less than a year since he kicked off his campaign and he is already taking orders.

rvndsgn utilizes Selective Laser Sintering to create their cases; they are literally printed and built layer upon layer. Stainless steel powder is converted into solid cross-sections by a CO2 laser until a solid, three dimensional case is formed. Bronze is infused into the steel to replace the binder used in the printing process. It is nickel free so the finished product is allergy free. Final finishing occurs by tumbling the cases in husks to remove any sharp edges leaving a grain pattern behind that is unique to each piece as a result of the sintering process. It makes for a look that strikes me as organic; almost like the hives built by paper wasps. As a fan of the Japanese Mokume technique and the classic, organic designs of Isamu Noguchi, I find it aesthetically appealing.

The cases are manufactured in The Netherlands and measure a modest 40mm across. In these austere times this is a nice break from the pie plate sized watches that some brands would have you believe are the new normal. Any color finishes are applied over the stainless by the same company that creates the cases.

The dial is created in New York using a similar rapid prototyping method but materials are nylon and acrylic. The movement holder is incorporated into the face creating a single piece design.

Final assembly takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan on a made to order basis. Delivery can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks on US orders.

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The bands and buckles are sourced from Italy and are a single piece, in form very similar to the G10 style. They pass through the case and could easily be replaced with a 20mm NATO or Zulu.

THE only downside to me is that it has a quartz movement – the Swiss Ronda 513. I prefer automatics. While Mr. Raven doesn’t have plans for an auto, he has assured me that he does have plans for additional styles that could accommodate an automatic movement. This illustrates one of the unique aspects of his method: there is no tooling to change. He just alters the measurements in the CAD file and produces it.

Mr. Raven is also looking to leverage his product toward a greater good:

I’m looking into doing a limited edition with a partnership with a large charity with the profits going to them.

rvndsgn started accepting orders as of last Friday with the exception of the all black and all white pieces. They are priced at $275 and shipping on both domestic and international orders is included in the price.

For more information, check out the rvndsgn website: http://rvndsgn.com/RVNDSGN/Home.html

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WITH today’s announcement of Renato spinning off their own forum, renatogeeks; and internet TV show, can we expect the world of TV Horology to collapse under it’s diversified weight?

ShopNBC used to be the defacto place to buy brands whose retail presence was secondary to their late night cable appearances on ShopNBC. Fans regularly phish for new products, gaining bragging rights on the WG town square. Filling the huge, empty hole in their souls with easy Value Pays and products selling for a 10th of the retail value.

Watchgeeks.net was spun up by a green ShopNBC host who used it to aggregate all of those dispirit fans who routinely got into pissing contests on other forums defending the Invicta brand – this was a fruitopia for those collectors and addicts; both vain and broken.

This model worked well for awhile, like Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. But then Invicta, who appears to have financed the site for many years, was no longer the king. Invicta quality started to wain and they began replacing the stuff that made them a value and viable brand – using coated mineral crystals and replacing stainless with polymers. Lior of SWI got into the game around this time. Where once he pushed brands that he actually owned the licensing agreement for, like Triumph and Jacques Lemans, he wanted to compete head to head with Invicta and so introduced Swiss Legend. These were “Swiss Movement” watches and Laylo loved to point out that all of his “Swiss” watches were the best value – because they were made in Switzerland. This occurred as better quality Chinese made brands were introduced (Android) and Invicta was beset by one scandal after another; caught lying about materials and having to admit that “Swiss” was actual Chinese.

The one commonality with all the TV brands is that they own no factories. They are a brand with designers who outsource it’s manufacture to the lowest bidder. I’ve seen TV Watch brand fans laugh off Fossil. But brands like Invicta are not even in Fossils league. The company actually takes a lead in quality and works with the suppliers at the manufacturing level to ensure the highest possible quality standards. Go to your local TJ Maxx and compare the two sometime.

WHEN James “No Cut Contract” Skelton replaced Tim Temple, he brought an entirely new demographic to the world of Horology. The Coors Lite; riding motorcycles in shorts and flip flops crowd people who smoked cigars and left the rings on; that drank Chardonnay from a box while wearing shirts with the top 4 buttons undone. These were not watch idiot savants – they was plain fucking idiots.

I’VE suspected that WOW.TV was a reaction to the Invicta Swinese scandal. They had been at a competitive disadvantage with Invicta who was claiming to offer supposed Swiss made watches at the same or lower prices. Always subjected to the Invicta crew of Davis, Lalo, Jill and even Skelton implying that consumers were getting Swiss made. Having handled both Swiss Legend and Invicta, the quality is slightly higher in more of the SWI examples. Surely Lior had handled the competition and realized he was surpassing Invicta but always second fiddle.

By the looks of it, WOW is a success and they are pushing Invicta product as well; sometimes the same product as Shop but far cheaper. Their customer service is legendary and far surpasses the complaints with SNBC and invicta’s CS blackhole.

AFTER the Michael Davis sticky on watchgeeks throwing Daniel Mink under the bus followed a day later with a Mink email blast announcing the planned termination of the WG/Renato relationship and launch of Renatogeeks.com and RenatoTV, two of the five major TV brands are now representing themselves with a major web presence and streaming internet tv shows. Are the remaining few far behind? How will ShopNBC and Invicta fair? Where once it looked as if ShopNBC was becoming THE Invicta channel, they have started to introduce SkyMalls favorite brand, Stauer, as well as a higher profile for Android.

Another competitive factor is Jim Skelton and where he’ll end up in September. Could Android be the next to go solo with Jim at the sales helm pushing Wing’s dreams to the fiends? Or is he headed to JTV as some are claiming and what will that do for the trailer park network and how it competes with ShopNBC?

PENNSYLVANIA was blessed this past election cycle to choose between two real winners for governor. One guy created a county wide poured drink tax to fund mass transit. A transit system that spent over $500 million on a 1.2 mile subway tunnel under the Allegheny river, 80% of that money from you and me as Federal taxpayers.

The other guy, while State AG, actually filled a subpoena against Twitter for the identity of two critics who were vocal regarding the money spent on his Bonusgate corruption trial of Pa State Democrats.

There wasn’t even a lesser of two evils. The choice was between Dumb and Dumber.

THE Republican won, swept into office because of anti-party incumbency as Pennsylvanians were tired of district pet projects and fed up with the corruption and self serving politicians that make up our bloated legislation.

As expected, he’s put a budget forward that cuts everything, including money for grants to higher education. If this were for profit schools, the Democrats would be cheering about sticking it to the man, correctly pointing out that most of the degrees that people earn from schools like The Art Institute, rarely result in making more money than a Walmartian worker but saddled with tens of thousands of student loan debt that they’ll be lucky to ever pay back. All while ignoring the no pay jobs that degrees from these public, state sponsored colleges offer like women’s studies, labor history and social work. These graduates end up with double the debt.

“He wants to shut the door of opportunity on thousands of young Pennsylvanians who just want to better themselves through education,” Phil LaRue, 22, a senior, said. “We will not let this happen.”

It’s a common refrain from students and schools as the yearly tuition costs continually climb.

But why are the ‘public schools’ increasing their tuition every year? It’s not like your average college professor or TA is seeing any of that money. These folks have been giving concessions for years. Most do it for the love of knowledge. So where is the money going?

THE dirty little secret of these “not for profit schools” is how much money the top earners actually make; the dirtier secret is who these faculty members are.

Since Phil LaRue is a student at the University of Pittsburgh, I wonder if he knows that according to the universities latest tax filing for fiscal year 2010, that men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon was paid $1,389,951 and fired football coach Dave Wannstedt made $1,010,873? The Athletic Director, Steven Pederson, draws a salary of $448,421, which is more than the associate vice chancellor for global health and graduate school of public health dean. And they typically see yearly increases. Is this what’s driving the cost of secondary education ever higher? It’s worth looking at.

Before these kids protest the state cuts, they need to turn inward and demand changes within their own university if their really concerned about access to higher education. With just these salaries, it’s clear that the priorities of the schools are all wrong and one has to wonder where else money is being misappropriated when it should be used to keep the costs down.

WatchGeek: The Brand

April 7, 2011

IT’S always fun to poke around the corners of the Internet, finding public information and bring it to light. Take Hollywood Florida based Invicta Watch Group. They tried to claim that the ‘brand’ Imperious wasn’t theirs; that they were only financing it. That’s until the Imperious trademark was revealed to be owned by Invicta from a public record source, at which point they tried to change the story and claim that they always claimed to have owned it. Shades of the much discussed Russian Diver.

Well I’ve turned up a few interesting trademark tidbits. Just two days after the original Watchgeek owner group announced the sale of the site to Invicta for undisclosed terms, IWG was busy trademarking “WatchGeeks” as both an “On-line forum for watch collectors” and as a line of “metal key chains; metal key rings”. It’s not a stretch to conclude that a line of t-shirts, sweat shirts and hats will surely follow.

What will this mean for the Ohio creator of the “Watch Geek Parking Only” signs on eBay? Can he expect a cease and desist?

ALSO of note was the application for the trademark “T.S.E.” back in October of 2010 for “Clocks and watches; Parts for watches; Watch bands and straps; Watch movements” and this begs the obvious question – is Invicta going to create a parts sourcing arm to rectify the ongoing customer complaints of poor service, lack of parts availability and turn around times that can stretch to several months for the smallest of repairs? Or will this new trademark bring more murkily sourced bands and accessories to the brand whose trademarked “Technica Swiss Ebauches” watch movements are actually assemble in Korea from Chinese Sea-Gull movements?

BETTERSKILLS combs the Net for information and does find it in really unusual places. So it was quite a moment when I managed to find this latest revelation of Invicta’s questionable marketing on the propaganda site that the watch company finances, watchgeeks.net.

The latest revelation comes from a WG member who purchased the turquoise watch “a few months ago.” It was presented as having a “genuine turquoise dial.” But yesterday, Michael “Fuckin” Davis was presenting the same watch on ShopNBC and fawning over the dial.

So what the hell is Howlite?

It’s a silicate mineral often used to replicate turquoise. In nature, the mineral color is white or grey with dark stripes and a porous structure that allows it to accept dyes uncommonly well. This leads to some dealers pawning it off as real turquoise, which raises the price considerably with some claiming that even jewelers have difficulty telling the two minerals apart. The Mohs scale rating of Howlite is half that of Turquoise typical hardness of five to six meaning that it can easily crumble and fracture.

SO it was first sold as Turquoise, months later as Howlite and on Amazon as Turquoise: “Textured accents and a bold dial give the Invicta Men’s Collection Stainless Steel Turquoise Stone Dial Watch eye-catching style in an easy-to-read design.” Obviously, the original poster feels cheated, and why wouldn’t he? This isn’t the first time that Invicta has been caught making questionable claims regarding a material or origin of a watch; look at just the scandals this year alone.

As expected, one of the Yellow Shirts jumped into the thread with the now worn out refrain of “There’s just not enough time in a day to be worrying about a thing like that.” and “Buy the watch for cheap, and enjoy how it LOOKS.” Personally, I’ve never understood how anyone could seriously accept this logic. How big of a vapid, mindless moron follower yearning for acceptance do you have to be to get screwed and smile, asking for more?

Would you take that stance with a car? A house?

I bet Invicta Watch Company cannot wait for this year of failure and revelation to end. I can’t wait to see what raspberries are in store for next year!

THE indisputable truth has been revealed – Invicta “Sandstone” dials are faker than a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills tits!

WE can thank Koi of watchlords for supplying the definitive proof.

ONE can almost hear the cries of the Watchgeek cheerleaders, “Who cares, if you like it!?” I tend to think that train has long left the station. A plastic dial with metal flakes and sand is not “Natural” sandstone.

http://watchlords.forumotion.net/t7632-invicta-sandstone-dial-report

Switzerland’s watch exports increased in August from the previous year, a report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH showed on Tuesday.

Export value of Swiss watches surged 24.1% in August from the previous year, to attain a level of CHF 1.07 billion. At the same time, wrist watches exports grew 25.9%, while other products exports climbed 4%.

In the January to August period, watch exports increased 20.1% compared to the same period of the previous year.

Developments among the Swiss watch industry’s main markets were varied. Hong Kong recorded another very strong performance with 18.7% annual growth and the U.S. showed an increase of 9.8%. The value of sales to Singapore showed one of the strongest upward variations of all and exports to China grew by 7%.

Source: http://www.rttnews.com/Content/AllEconomicNews.aspx?Node=B2&Id=1424015