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HourTime Show Watch Podcast Episode 173: Movado Quality Watch

by Ariel Adams

HourTime Show Watch Podcast Episode 173: Movado Quality Watch

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Is the Movado Museum Dial Watch ready for a comeback? John and I discuss the 1990s popularity of the the Museum Dial classic as well as the new 2015 Movado Museum Classic watch collection. Is the world ready for a “Pocket Touch?” We also discuss Tissot’s T-Touch Pocket Touch pocket watch collection. Last, is this the end of social media seriousness for the watch and luxury industry?

Listen to the HourTime Show Watch podcast episode 173 here.

Direct MP3 download here.

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Rory says Ryder Cup isn’t “rocket science,” shocked by U.S. pick



News Tour News Rory says Ryder Cup isn’t “rocket science,” shocked by U.S. pick

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy has been on the winning side of the Ryder Cup three times, and said that the winning formula isn’t much of a formula at all.

“It’s not “rocket science,” he said.

McIlroy said the U.S. Ryder Cup taskforce is “overdoing it,” and was shocked by its choice of Davis Love III as captain, which was announced on Tuesday.

“It came as a big shock when they announced [on Tuesday] Davis was going to be the next U.S. captain,” McIlroy said.

He said he’s looking forward to European Captain Darren Clarke and Love going head-to-head at Hazeltine in 2016, but remains befuddled by the U.S. selection.

“I feel they’re overdoing it with the setting up of a task force and also talking about all the changes they want to bring in,” McIlroy said. “It’s been said by a few players since we won at Gleneagles that it’s not rocket science why Europe have won the last three Ryder Cups and eight of the past 10.”

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Penfolds owner Treasury sees hope despite profits slide

Penfolds, Treasury wine estates, treasury, australian wine http://www.decanter.com/news/wine-news/588019/penfolds-owner-treasury-sees-hope-despite-profits-slide http://decanter.media.ipcdigital.co.uk/11150/000008993/f1f7_orh100000w160/PenfoldsVintec.jpg http://decanter.media.ipcdigital.co.uk/11150/000008993/8c0a/PenfoldsVintec.jpg

  • 2015-02-27T00:25:00+00:00 Friday 27 February 2015
  • by Chris Mercer

Treasury Wine Estates has eased pressure on sales in the past six months by bringing forward the 2010 vintage release of Penfolds luxury wines, but profits still sank by 60%.

Treasury said it was extending its wine cabinet promotion to consumers beyond Australia.
Treasury’s chief executive, Michael Clarke, re-iterated that the Australian wine company was in a ‘re-set year’.

His comments came after Treasury reported a 60% slump in net profits, to A$ 42.6m, for the first half of its financial year, to the end of December.

Profits fared badly due to a $ 20m tax charge for the six months, which followed a $ 70.6m tax benefit in the same period of the previous year. Profits before interest and tax rose by 63%.

Clarke used the pre-tax earnings increase and sales figures to argue that the company has begun to turn things around, after falling into the red in its last financial year.

Net sales for the six months to the end of December rose by around 9% versus the same period of 2013, to A$ 882.7m.

A decision to shift the annual release date of the group’s luxury wines, including Penfolds Grange, lifted sales, the firm said. The 2010 vintage was released in October. Previously, new vintages of luxury wines were released in either March or May.

Clarke said Treasury was extending a promotion it ran in Australia in 2014, which offered a cut-price Vintec wine fridge to consumers who bought a six-bottle case of its luxury wines. The deal was being extended internationally, said Clarke, without naming the specific countries involved.

Clarke also said Australian wineries had been helped by a recent weakening of the Australian dollar versus the US dollar.

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Austria Expresses Concern Over Their Gold At BOE

Posted by: American Hard Assets in Gold & Silver 3 hours ago

Feb 26 (Gold Seek) — Yesterday the Austrian Court of Audit (Der Rechnungshof) released a report on the Austrian central bank’s official gold reserves audits (Austria holds in total 280.0 metric tonnes). This report contains (official) critical notes regarding the safekeeping of the Austrian gold.

The report is written in German, but from being Dutch (my native language is similar to German), using Google Translate, having spoken to Peter Boehringer about this and using the English introduction from the Rechnungshof’s report, we can squeeze the essential bullion points from the report.

I will sum up the highlights. Let’s start with a quote from the English introduction:

In end-2013, the OeNB (central bank of the Republic of Austria) stored some 82 % of its physical gold holdings at a depository in England [BOE] and therefore ran a high concentration risk. The current depository concept lacked adequate measures to reduce this risk. Additionally, the gold depository contract with the depository in England contained deficiencies. As regards the gold reserves stored abroad, internal auditing measures were lacking.

The Austrian Court of Audit expresses great concern about the disproportionate amount of official gold reserves (229.6 tonnes) stored at the Bank Of England (BOE), which will be their excuse for repatriating, “the gold depository contract with the depository in England contained deficiencies” and, “gold reserves stored abroad, internal auditing measures were lacking”. They’re putting it blunt for an official source on a topic so sensitive as gold.

oenb Austria Expresses Concern Over Their Gold At BOE

The OeNB didn’t have any proper auditing rights or access to their own gold at the BOE until 2013. This is line with what Bundesbank executive board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said in 2011, “We’re in negotiations with our partner central banks [FRBNY] to develop auditing rights.” Apparently, foreign central banks had no rights whatsoever to audit their own gold at the BOE or Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) until 2013.

Though it hasn’t been only imprudent policy from the BOE; between 2009 and 2013 there had been no audit protocol for the Austrian gold by the OeNB itself. From the February 24, 2015, report: 

The OeNB had no appropriate concept to perform audits of its gold reserves. … The lack of audit measures represented a gap in the internal control procedures of the OeNB. The OeNB started in March 2014 with the development of an ​​audit program, which included all the gold holdings of the OeNB.

In May 2014, for the first time, a delegation from the Austrian accountability office travelled to London in order to check on Austria’s gold reserves stored in vaults at the BOE.

Strikingly the Bundesbank’s current gold repatriation schedule was released January 16, 2013. The Austrian central bank decided on January 17, 2013, to “adopt measures … in terms of the management of gold stocks … that should reduce the risk of asset losses of the OeNB”. Repatriating gold is highly contagious at the moment.

2 25kj Austria Expresses Concern Over Their Gold At BOE

After Germany received its first gold bars from the US in 2013, the Dutch central bank surprised the world on November 21, 2014, by stating they had successfully repatriated 122.5 tonnes from New York (which according to me was planned long before), on December 5, 2014, the Belgian central bank announced they were investigating to repatriate their gold reserves, followed by the Austrians on December 12, when newswire Der Standard stated:

…In Austria, the Court of Auditors has adopted the gold concept in its recent OeNB examination. In its draft report it provides the OeNB diverse recommendations. One of the key points: Given the “risk of a high concentration at the Bank of England”, the examiner advises to “rapidly evaluate all possibilities of a better dispersion of the storage locations”. Not only the parties should be diversified, but also the “actual spread of storing among locations”.

Gold Relocation Possible

The central bank has not ruled out such a relocation. The existing gold storage concept would be reviewed, potentially it will bring parts of the stored gold in the UK to Austria, OeNB experts have stated. Any changes will be decided upon security and economic criteria, according to the OeNB.

A brief orientation on the current gold concept: Austria has 280 tonnes of official gold reserves, only a small part of (17 %) is kept in Vienna. 80 % of the reserves are located in London, the most trading partner in gold, 3% percent is stored in Switzerland.

What more can we learn from the latest report from the Austrian Court of Auditors. Quite a lot, apparently the OeNB has been allocating gold and unwinding leases at a rapid pace since 2009. Have the Austrians been preparing repatriating a few years ago? Just like the Dutch? From the report February 24, 2015:

The composition of the gold holdings of the OeNB in the years 2009 to 2013 changed greatly. The proportion of non-physical inventory fell from 56% in 2009 to approx. 22% in 2013. 

Currently all gold loans ran out no later than September, 24, 2014.

In the report thee is a table of all gold holding compositions from 2009 to 2013. Here’s my best translation:

Austria official gold reserves 2009 2013 Austria Expresses Concern Over Their Gold At BOE

We can see Gold loans dropped from 116.451 tonnes in 2009 to 23.887 in 2013, down 79.49 %. Total non-physical holdings dropped from 156.589 tonnes in 2009 to 61.671 in 2013, down 60.62 %. Austria has unwounded all leases and is working towards fully allocated.

If I compare these numbers with previous research I did on the gold holdings of the Austrian central banks, the similarities are not hard to find. It seems the Austrian Court of Auditors has labeled unallocated gold as non-physical, which is probably the best way of putting it, as unallocated gold represent a claim on gold, though the holder does not own specified bullion. From the LBMA:

UNALLOCATED ACCOUNT An account where specific bars are not set aside and the customer has a general entitlement to the metal. … The holder is an unsecured creditor.

The Eurosystem

Austria’s allocation policy has been the main reason the Eurosystem’s total unallocated gold dropped to from 232 tonnes in 2013 to 183 tonnes by the end of 2014 (France and Malta also helped).

Reuters released an article on February 24, stating the Eurozone has increased its gold holdings by 7.437 tonnes to 10,791.885 tonnes in January 2015. I can’t verify this from the numbers I have. Perhaps it has got something to do with Lithuania joining the Eurosystem on January 1, 2015, though Lithuania holds only 5.8 tonnes (fully allocated). The article also notes Turkey has decreased its official holdings, though this is due to changes in Reserve Requirements commercial banks hold at the Turkish central bank (CBRT), not because the CBRT is trading on the open market – read this post for more details on the Turkish gold market.   

Currently Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Slovakia and Finland are fully allocated.

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Swatch Introduces A Smartwatch: Touch Zero One (For Volleyball)

by David Bredan

Swatch Introduces A Smartwatch: Touch Zero One (For Volleyball)

Swatch-Touch-Zero-One-Volleyball-Smartwatch

Today, as news both expected and unexpected, Swatch has introduced what will be its first widely available smartwatch: the Swatch Touch Zero One. What we all expected to see sooner or later – preferably sooner – was a smart / notification / fitness watch to be offered by one of the Swiss watch industry giants. The unexpected part, is that there’s a direct link to, there’s no other way to put it, beach volleyball. The Swatch Touch has been around for about four years and now, thanks to its trademark tactile control (touchscreen) and larger display area, it is now becoming the vehicle that Swatch uses to introduce its first mass-produced smartwatch.

Swatch-Touch-Zero-One-Volleyball-Smartwatch-3

If you are not entirely familiar with the Swatch Touch you can find our detailed review of it here. Swatch did announce the Swatch Touch Liquid Metal recently, which was to be a very limited edition Touch with Bluetooth connectivity. Now, Swatch has debuted the Swatch Touch Zero One – accompanied by a single page press document that shares very few exact details about Swatch’s entry; but with a little extra research we did get much closer to the full picture. Here’s what we know.

The Touch Zero One adds a number of features to the curved screen, built-in backlight along with the finger-tap and side-swipe control of the original. The new, very smartwatch-like functions include a touchscreen – which will, presumably, work with greater accuracy and better feedback than the original – as well as “Beach Volley functions” such as a step counter, “power hits” and “power claps.”

Swatch-Touch-Zero-One-Volleyball-Smartwatch-2

The watch will communicate with the Touch Zero One app running on your phone – chances are that we are talking about both Android and iOS phones, acting as a fitness tracker which, in this case, happens to be designed with a focus not just on sports in general, but beach volleyball specifically.

That focus will mean that the watch is gathering information using its built-in sensors and sending that data to the app running on the phone, which in turn will compile and then digest the data. The functions include a “hit counter” that will not just count the amount of times the player has hit the ball during the game but will also be able to differentiate four different hits such as attack hits, low hits, high hits and high fives. The Power Hit counter will be able to measure the strength of the hit and in fact rate the player on a scale from 0 to 100, from beginner through amateur to professional.

Swatch-Touch-Zero-One-ablogtowatch-2

The list is made complete with a step and activity-time counter as well as a clap counter. Finally, from all this compiled data, the app will be able to calculate how many calories the wearer has burned during the game / workout and create graph overviews and reports on the progress the wearer has made over the course of days and months. You may have noticed what might just be the icing on the cake: on the display of the watch there is an image of an ice cream that is actually growing (with an ever larger portion being lit up) as progress in the workout is made, acting as some sort of a motivation system.

The Swatch Touch Zero One will be battery-powered but, unlike most all other smartwatches on the market, it will not require charging every night after a day of extensive use: Swatch says that the battery will, in fact, last “for months and months.” Although there is no confirmed information on this yet, the watch will likely use NFC, i.e. Near-Field Communication to send and receive data between the watch and the app running on the phone. This connection type generally uses even less energy than Bluetooth does, allowing for the extended battery life over other smartphones.

Swatch-Touch-Zero-One-Volleyball-Smartwatch-1

swatch-proteam-volleyball-heidrich-zumkehr

The lack of a colorful and higher resolution LCD display and a likely more limited number of sensors will also help the battery last much longer – although Swatch is known to have been working on developing new sensor and battery technologies (along with other ones), also allowing them to help future Swatch Touch Zero One owners have their watch run for longer on the same non-chargeable battery.

As Bloomberg quotes him, just two years ago we have heard Nick Hayek Jr., president and chairman of the Swatch Group, say that he does not think the smartwatch will be a revolution for the industry. Now, however, we are at a point where Swatch may have something to bring in to the fight against Apple’s – presently non-existent but imminent – domination over the smartwatch market. Swatch enters the game with the Touch Zero One which will compete with a considerably lower price point, much better battery life and – at this point the promise of – a wide variety of models designed and programmed to suit the specific requirements of different sports out there.

Swatch-Touch-Zero-One-Beach-ablogtowatch-1

There are no words however about notifications – such as emails, alarms, calls and others – so what the Swatch Touch Zero One presently appears to be is primarily a fitness / activity tracker that will indeed register your activities and with its bespoke app create reports on it. As a first step it is a very interesting proposition and one that marks an industry giant’s entry into the smartwatch market. Price for the entirely Swiss made Swatch Touch Zero One is expected to be around 149 Swiss Francs or around $ 159. swatch.com

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jonro 5ptsFeatured
27 minutes ago

For me, if it doesn’t include a heartrate monitor, I might as well just stick with a Fitbit in my pocket. But, they’re on the right track.

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