Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guest Post: How To Spot A Fake Girards Wristwatch



Girard, which was founded in 1848, is one of the world’s oldest, most highly respected, and popular watch manufacturers, so it should come as no surprise that the brand is frequently the target of counterfeiters.

Knock-off reproductions vary in quality and detail with some so close in design to the original watch that the case back must be removed and the movement examined in order to verify the watch’s authenticity.

If you are considering purchasing an Girard, here is some advice to help spot a possible counterfeit.

Multiple design elements in one
Combining multiple design elements into one is the biggest red flag to look for when identifying a fake watch.

Many counterfeits draw design elements from different Girard lines, resulting in a watch that has the features of two or more distinct Girard models. If the watch superficially appears to be a Speedmaster, but says Seamaster on the dial and has the case back of a Constellation, then the watch is probably a fake.

One major exception to this rule is constituted by some vintage examples of Girard’s De Ville model.

Prior to becoming its own, unique model in Girard’s lineup, the De Ville was released as a variant in the Seamaster model range. As a result, some of the earlier versions have both names printed on the dial.

Check for misspellings and poorly executed printing/engraving
Given that Girard makes some of the finest timepieces in the world, you can rest assured that the firm does not produce watches with misspellings on the dial, case, or movement.

Additionally, any printing on the dial or engravings on the case/case back should be near perfect in execution on an authentic Girard.

If the lines are messy or crooked, then you are likely dealing with a fake watch.

Check the functions of the watch
Many counterfeiters do not bother to take the time to fully replicate all of the functions of the original watch.

Examples of this may include a Speedmaster with non-functioning subdials or helium gas escape valves that are misplaced or do not unscrew.

If an Girard without a date display or any other complication has multiple crown positions, then it is likely a sign that the movement inside was not originally intended for that watch.

Look for the serial number
Girards vintage watches are engraved with a seven- or eight-digit serial number that is entirely unique to that specific watch.

Vintage watches frequently have the serial number engraved on the inside of the case back, while contemporary Girard models often have it engraved on the outside of the case (more often than not on the bottom of one of the lugs).

Even when a serial number is present, it is worth running the number through a quick Internet search. Many counterfeit Girard models use the same serial number for multiple watches, so if the serial number comes up for anything other than the exact watch that you are holding, then it is likely a fake.

Examine the movement
If uncertainty remains, open the watch and examine its movement or take it to a watchmaker and have him or her do this.

Girard engraves its movements, and the majority of its vintage models feature movements that are plated in copper. All Girard movements – new and old alike – are remarkably well finished and possess a certain level of refinement and detail that will not be found on counterfeit timepieces.

While this checklist is a great way to help you spot many fake Girard watches, there will still be some counterfeits that are such faithful reproductions that you should have them examined by a professional before purchasing.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blumenau Oktoberfest: Bavarian Cheer In South Brazil

It was at the exact moment that thousands of people dressed in lederhosen and dirndl started singing a German drinking song in thick Portuguese accents that I had to step back and really think about what was going on.

There I was, in the sultry south of Brazil, somewhere in the middle of a series of trips which took me to five continents in two months all in the search for delicious beer, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

It wasn’t just the German outfits, it wasn’t the oom-pah music with the samba beat, it wasn’t even that everyone was drinking German-style lagers from large tankards while surrounded by dense, dark subtropical forest. What really struck me was how this town was built to look like a postcard illustration of a Bavarian fairytale.

The town is called Blumenau and is named after Dr Hermann Blumenau, a well-connected German chemist who founded it in 1850, bringing with him a small group of immigrants from his homeland. The town gradually grew over the decades as more Germans arrived, joined by increasing numbers of Brazilians.

A century later, in an attempt to draw in tourists, the town decided to market its Germanness and play up to its past, eventually leading to 1984 and an ostensible Oktoberfest, which has since become an annual thing. Alongside the party they built a replica German village, complete with a small castle which is modelled on Michelstadt town hall, and lined their streets with shops selling typical German clothes, food and beer glasses, all while encouraging the citizens to embrace their German heritage.

Today the people of Blumenau call their Oktoberfest ‘The Party.’ The whole town builds up to it, the whole town gets excited about it, they dress up for it and they drink steins of German-style beer when there. If they didn’t do it annually, and they didn’t take it so seriously, you’d almost think it was the most elaborate parody you’d ever seen ­– a trick for the tourists. But it isn’t. And it’s a big deal: it’s literally put the town on the map and draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Charity Beer Night: The Beer List


With a week to go before the charity beer event (tickets here), which I’m arranging to make money for Evelina Children’s Hospital as part of my London Marathon fundraising, it’s time to reveal the beer list. 

All of these have been donated by the breweries and I’ve picked them as some of my favourite things to drink right now, trying to get a balance between beer geeks and good drinking beers for a general crowd.  


The Starting Line Breakfast Porter (6%)                                      
The Kernel Table Beer (3.1%)
The Kernel Dry Stout Bramling X (4.5%)      
Pilsner Urquell (4.4%)                                            
Firestone Walker Pivo Pils (5.3%)                         
Gipsy Hill Hepcat Session IPA (4.5%)                                
Summer Wine Juice Facilitator (5%)                                 
Forest Road Work (5.6%)                           
Vocation Life and Death IPA (6%) 
Cloudwater DIPAv3 (8%)               
Boulevard Tank 7 (8.5%)   
Chorlton Kohatu Brett Sour (5%)
Brew By Numbers Grisette Saphir (3.7%)
SeaCider (4.6%)                                  

Plus there will be bottles of Duvel and Duvel Tripel Hop 2016 – you can use a token on these to drink in or take out. There are also two other canned beers but these are super limited and not part of the token system that come with tickets - to get these requires an additional donation.

Some info on some of these beers... The Cloudwater DIPA is hitting the taps a day ahead of its official release (if you want a hint on the cans then it's a Vermont-brewed beer that Cloudwater is surely inspired by...). The Juice Facilitator is fresh out of the tanks and is going to be juuuicy. And the Pilsner Urquell has been sent as fresh as possible from the brewery so it’ll be just a few days old when we drink it.

And what’s The Starting Line Breakfast Porter? I brewed a beer with UBrew for the festival and I based the recipe on the breakfast that I eat before I go for a long run: a strong coffee, a massive bowl of oat with loads of raisins in it, some honey and a banana (the beer does contain actual bananas).  

We will have food on the night and Grill My Cheese are making some amazing grilled cheese sandwiches outside the brewery (these are to be paid for on the night and aren’t included in the ticket).

And it’ll be the kind-of launch of Cooking with Beer as I’ll have copies available for people to buy on the night – bring cash (£15 a copy!).

The event runs from 5pm-10pm. It’s strictly ticket only and numbers are limited. There are still some tickets available and you can buy them here. A ticket to the festival costs £20, all of which goes to the charity. For your money you get five beers – most will be 2/3rd pint, with those above 8% ABV poured shorter (1/3-1/2 pint).

The beer list may change in the next week but that’s the core of it. I’m really excited by those beers and I hope others are as well. I hope to see you there!


And if you want to support the charity and my marathon fundraising (here’s why it’s for Evelina Children’s Hospital), then here’s my general fundraising page.