I received this email from Larry Loesch Wednesday...:
From: Larry Loesch
Subject: Tachymeter bezel problems
Date: October 18, 2006 2:04:08 PM CDT
A recent issue of the Horological Times featured that bezel in a "What
do you suppose this is" article. The followup article confirmed that
they used 1000 Meters as the base to calculate the speed in MPH.
If you are interested I'll get you the issue dates of the article in
- Larry Loesch
Naturally, I said "Please send along anything you can dig up" in reply to Larry and he was especially effecient in sending along the following:
From: Larry Loesch
Subject: Tachymeter bezel problems
Date: October 18, 2006 10:47:29 PM CDT
The first mention of the watch was in the Aug 06 issue of the Horological Times on page 32. They called it the Mystery Bezel Contest. :) In the Sep 06 issue they gave the solution on page 20. I think they were trying to protect the company's identity as they blurred the dial in the picture and don't call them by name. I compared the picture in the article to the one on your site and it's the same watch. That, or it's another watch with the exact same case where the blurs match perfectly! Here's the relevant portion:
This bezel converts the vehicle speed from metric to English units and assumes the vehicle is traveling at a constant speed over a 1-kilometer distance. The bezel readout gives the vehicle's speed in miles per hour. The member or members who solved this mystery will be mentioned in next month's column. The above correct answer was verified by two sources. An e-mail was sent to our member Jerry Sussman asking his thoughts on the mystery bezel and a phone call was placed to a manager at the watch company. Within a day or so, Jerry, an MIT professor of engineering and computer science, answered the e-mail. He explained that this bezel converted vehicle speed from metric to English units as explained above. Within a few days, the manager called and verified Jerry's explanation. He also explained that the bezel was produced in Switzerland by designers who confused English and metric units when they designed this particular bezel. The bezel went into production without anyone noticing the design error until an observant salesperson in a retail shop brought it to the manufacturer's attention. Future issues of this model will be equipped with the traditional tachymeter bezel. Will this watch with it's unusual bezel become a collector's item in the future similar to a coin or stamp issued with an accidental flaw? Time will tell.
Typos in the above are most likely due to my typing skills.
What's funny to me is that it took more work than a normal bezel to produce it! I find it very surprising that somewhere along the line someone didn't say "Hey, guys... isn't this a lot harder than it should be?" Oh well...
You may quote my emails as needed.
So, Larry's email's answer a few things.
I wasn't the first person to spot the problem. Although I did spot it independently as I had never heard of the "Horological Times" publication prior to Larry's email. Indeed, I was aware of the model back in August but I hadn't noticed the issue with the bezel back then.
As indicated in the passage that Larry so graciously transcribed for us the bezel went into production.
Thus this bezel was notthe product of Photoshop or retouching as some people have suggested.
This model (with the bezel) was shipped to dealers and was on display to customers before an observant sales person at a retail shop brought the issue to the manufacturer's attention.
It's not clear if all examples that were on dealer's shelves were recalled and substituted with a newer model with a correct Tachymeter bezel which corrects the rather apparent issue with the erronious bezel.
Not that this should be a surprise considering Omega's intransigence with regard to the known and acknowledged flaws with the F. Piguet c.33xx based Chronographs.
However, just like Edsels, while they are collector's items, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will be a great value or lucritive in the collectors market.
Like Larry I find it exceedingly interesting that the engineers of this bezel took so much time and effort to make this bezel more work than was necessary. I can't understand why someone (especially an engineer) wouldn't think a) "Why are we trying to re-invent the wheel here?" or b) "Haven't we done this or something similar in the past? Let's just copy that!".
And why would anyone think that a tachymeter that reads out in KM/h be attractive/needed by NASCAR fans?!?!?
What doesn't surprise me is that something so glaring made it past a Swatch Group firm's Quality Control/Marketing/etc. departments into production, distribution and yes probably even into customer's hands. Why doesn't this surprise me? Because I've seen several previous examples of similar ineptitude from Swatch Group, this is not an isolated instance.
As it is, Tissot's official website continues to display a picture of the watch in question with the flawed bezel, as well as a video on their website with the same bezel (as Rrryan pointed out on TZOF), two months after it was published in Horological Times. Were it not for an alert Salesperson (how many of them are there out there these days! Geez!) this model would likely still be on display at dealers.
I suppose if there is any thing to feel moderately good about it is that between Jeff Stein (Owner of OnTheDash.com), Eptaz00 (Moderator of the Omega forum over at WUS) and myself, we were able to figure out what the mistake was without consulting a Professor of engineering and Computer Science at MIT. True Jeff is a lawyer, and I have a degree (Associate's though certainly not a professor level degree) in Computer Programming, not sure what Eric's (Eptaz) education is. But I mean if we can figure out what happened in about 10 minutes of conversation shouldn't the folks who's job it is to make these things be able to do the same?
But then again, this is "The New Swatch Group". Sigh... If you're a fan of any of the Swatch Group brands, put on your seatbelt tight and get ready for a bumpy ride.