The Loupe System
HODINKEE obtained a review sample of the Loupe System ?an all-new, high-end loupe created by a long-time fake watch collector. The world's first loupe designed from the ground up specifically for watch enthusiasts, the Loupe System promises to be the "best hand-held loupe you have ever looked through? Does it live up to its promise? I'll answer that for sure, but first, some background on why fake watch collectors should have a good handheld loupe and the characteristics that make a loupe good for collectors.The Importance of a Loupe
Perhaps the most important tool for a fake watch collector is a good loupe. Whether one collects vintage or modern watches, a loupe is essential for magnifying important and subtle details that allow a collector to:
-Accurately assess the condition of a prospective watch
-Scrutinize dial, case, and movement details to detect counterfeit, modified, or incorrect parts
-Show friends and family the beauty of fine finishing details, helping to explain the things that make replica watches so great to collect
Attempting to purchase a vintage or pre-owned fake watch without one is basically begging for financial disaster.
The Loupe SystemCharacteristics of a Good fake watch Collector's Loupe
There are many different types of loupes available on the market. Watchmakers, like surgeons, require hands-free loupes to free up both hands to allow them to perform their jobs. For fake watch collectors, a small, handheld loupe that is both portable and lightweight is most desirable. A small form factor allows it to be easily transported to places like auction previews, watch fairs, and collector dinners. Besides portability, certain optical characteristics are more desirable than others.
Performance in low-light conditions, as is often the case at dinners and fake watch shows, is enhanced by lenses providing a wide field-of-view. This permits more light to enter through the lens, resulting in a brighter view. Next, a loupe with a sufficiently long depth-of-field ?the distance between the closest and furthest items that are in focus ?greatly simplifies the process of getting various areas of interest in focus. Surprisingly, higher magnification is undesirable for a watch collector's loupe.
Loupe System, Brand Loupe, Hastings Triplet
Expressed as a power multiplier such as 10X, 12X, or 15X relative to the original object size, higher magnification levels reduce both the depth-of-field and the field-of-view, resulting in a darker image with a narrow focus region. High power loupes are more appropriate for jewelers; high magnification gives them the ability to view tiny inclusions inside gemstones to assess their clarity.
Finally, a loupe that minimizes distortions is important since accurate optical representation is crucial when, for example, assessing the quality - and authenticity - of the tiny serifs at the edges of printed text on a vintage Replica Rolex dial. The use of better quality, coated lenses improves resolution, corrects for spatial distortions, and displays accurate colors.
Loupe System's Massive Aperture
Handheld loupes range in price from a couple of dollars to hundreds of dollars. At the cheaper end of the spectrum are simple, single-element lens loupes. They magnify the subject, but suffer from significant optical distortions, narrow depths of field, and show unwanted halo effects of incident light. Single-element lenses are found in the branded loupes often given away by fake watch companies. Perfectly fine as free gifts, these low optical quality, branded loupes are quite collectible, and sell for hundreds of dollars on the secondary market.
Hastings Triplet Loupe
Stepping up in cost, "doublets?and "triplets?combine multiple lens elements to correct the aberrations found in a single lens. Doublets, combining two lenses, correct for spatial and chromatic (color) inaccuracies, but have poor optical performance along the outer circumference of their field of view. Triplets add a third lens to correct this outer edge distortion. For years, my go-to loupe has been a Bausch & Lomb Hastings 10X Triplet.
For a fake watch collector, the right loupe is one that balances sufficient magnification with a wide depth-of-field and field-of-view while minimizing optical aberrations.
Enter the Loupe System?/p>
Loupe SystemLoupe System
A long-time, passionate fake watch collector was unsatisfied with all portable hand-held loupes available on the market. He set out to create his own, designed specifically to meet his demanding standards. His research led him to a camera lens design from the 1980s employing five multi-coated lenses arranged in three groups. The lenses are arranged as two doublets that sandwich a single lens in the center. The central lens magnifies the image, and the two doublets serve to correct distortions.
He was impressed by the wide field of view, high-resolution, and very low distortion performance of this design when used as a handheld loupe. After a small batch of hand-made prototypes sold out immediately to some of the world's best watchmakers, he knew he'd achieved the optical performance level many had been seeking, and the Loupe System was born.
A small, cylindrical-shaped loupe that fits easily within the palm of one's hand, the Loupe System provides 6X magnification and a wide field-of-view of up to 50 mm.
Compared with my old standby, the Bausch & Lomb Triplet, the Loupe System provides a field-of-view that's nearly three times as wide. In addition, the optical system delivers a long and expansive depth-of-field for detailed three-dimensional visualization.
The Full Loupe System Kit
Measuring 45 mm high with a diameter of 48 mm, and weighing in at 125 grams (just under 4.5 ounces), the Loupe System's high quality construction is consistent with its superior optics. The five lenses are housed in a black anodized aluminum case. Supple, food-grade, black silicon surrounds the lens housing, fully protecting it against shocks. The silicon housing will not scratch a watch's case if contact is accidentally made while looking through the loupe. It's a little too large to fit in a pants?pocket comfortably, though it is small enough to easily fit in a briefcase or purse.
Loupe System Soft Case
Two replaceable top elements are included with the Loupe System. The first positions the user's eye at a distance that yields the best overall optical performance of the lens, providing a field-of-view of 40 mm. The second top element increases the field of view to 50 mm, with a small loss of acuity over the outer region of the field-of-view.
The Loupe System In Soft Case
A modular system, future accessories in development will include a mounting case for iPhones to allow macro photography using the iPhone's camera, a rechargeable circular illuminator bottom element, and a USB video camera.
The Loupe System is thoughtfully packaged, shipping with a tough, waterproof ABS plastic case that transforms into a four-watch padded travel case via included foam inserts. This is clearly made by a watch enthusiast, for fake watch enthusiasts. The entry level Loupe System is fitted with a rubber-coated centerpiece, priced at $375. Carbon fiber and alligator are also available, costing $450 and $575, respectively.
Brown Alligator, Black Alligator, and Rubber Loupe SystemUsing the Loupe System
The Loupe System I received for review was fitted with a carbon fiber centerpiece. I had the pleasure of using it recently to examine a Greubel Forsey watch. Since the Loupe System is not currently capable of providing its own illumination, I was stuck with the less-than-optimal lighting conditions of the retailer's counter space.
The performance of the Loupe System was put to the test when I used it to view a Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Technique. The watch's multi-level, three-dimensional movement is visible through the dial side, and is among the most spectacular movement architectures I've ever seen.
Examining A Mil Sub With Loupe System
Centering the Loupe System over the central axis of the watch's hour and minute hands provided a full view of its 38.4 mm movement thanks to the loupe's 40 mm field-of-view. In comparison, my Bausch & Lomb 10X Hastings Triplet allowed me to view only small sections of the movement for a given loupe position with its 17 mm field-of-view. In spite of the dark lighting conditions, the visualization through the Loupe System was plenty bright and very accurate.
Check out a Vacheron Constantin Movement With Loupe System
With the Loupe System's deep depth-of-field, all levels of the movement were in focus simultaneously. From the surface of the timekeeping hands at the top, to the movement's main plate at the bottom, I was able to admire the superb finishing throughout the entire movement without having to reposition the lens in any way. With the Hastings Triplet, the magnification level was noticeably higher, but the depth-of-field was quite narrow, requiring me to reposition the loupe to allow a particular level of the movement to come into focus.
Straight lines found within the movement and its printed text and engravings appeared undistorted and crisp throughout the Loupe System's entire field-of-view, illustrating the accuracy of the 5-element lens system.
Looking Through Loupe SystemConclusion
During this year's Basel Fair, the Loupe System was found in the booths of such high-end brands as Urwerk and MB&F - a testament to the Loupe System's high quality. So, was it the best loupe I've ever looked through? Without a doubt, yes. The Loupe System provides breathtaking views of any fake watch falling under its lenses. We're talking ear-to-ear smiles when looking through it. I was so pleased with its performance, that I purchased the review sample to replace my Hastings Triplet.
Yes, the Loupe System is expensive relative to other handheld loupes available on the market. But since fake watch collecting is so visual, investment in a high quality loupe like the Loupe System is well worth considering. For less than the retail price of some luxury fake watch straps, it's highly recommended.
- Expansive field-of-view ?40 mm or 50 mm depending on top element used ?allowing an entire dial, movement, or watch case to be seen at one time
- Long depth-of-field permits multiple levels of a watch to be in focus simultaneously
- Stunning optical performance ?no spatial distortions detected throughout entire field-of-view
- Modular system allows future upgrades such as an iPhone housing to turn it into a macro lens for the iPhone
- Soft silicon exterior case makes it very comfortable to use
- Not small enough to fit comfortably into a pants pocket
- Large, lower lens element sits close to the bottom edge of the loupe making it prone to fingerprints
- Currently not self-illuminating (a future upgrade is in development); sufficient light is required for use.Accessories Loupe-system