I’m done with Rolex sports watches!
I’m done with Rolex sports watches!
A while back I had no divers in my collection and was rejoicing in that fact, Today, I have three – a Tuna, a vintage 5513 and now a classic 16600 from the early naughties. I guess I just like them, and a Sea-Dweller is a pretty rock-solid watch in terms of value/investment. Still, this kind if things drives home how nuts we are, doesn’t it?
The last GMT I had was the beautiful PCG from 1963 that I let go in a very ill-advised trade. Prior to that I’d had a GMTIIC and a 16710 from the late nineties, and I have to say that it’s a watch that I like to have in my collection.
I’ve actually yearned for a nice matt-dialled example since letting the last one go. I didn’t really fancy another 1675 as the lack of a quickset date is a major pain, and that left only the first couple of years of the 16750 to go for. (The newer references – starting with the 16760, or Fat Lady, in 1983 – benefitted from an independently adjustable hour hand, thus giving them true GMT functionality. Up until then, though, and including the 16750, the second time zone could only be utilised through bezel adjustment; whilst the 24-hour hand simply mirrored the time shown by the hour and minute hands. Mind you, even that was better than the McQueen!)
The 16750 is a model that was produced from 1981 to 1988, and it introduced the new cal. 3075 movement with a different order for the hand stack and – importantly – a properly quicksetting date; by which I mean, not a semi-quickset achieved via an hour hand that moved in one-hour increments, but quickset date changing through the crown operation. The matt dials were only fitted for a couple of years, so they’re genuinely quite rare in comparison to the gloss dial with WGS indices. The earlier production runs of the gloss dials also had what’s known as the no-date dial (i.e. the word “Date” wasn’t printed on the dial) but this applied to all the matt dials as well.
Despite looking regularly for the right watch over a period of months, I was finding it pretty hard to find anything in the right condition and at the right price. Then, a couple of days ago, I saw that a TZ member had listed just the thing (dating from 1983, and with gorgeous dial & hands and nice fat lugs) and I was frantically PMing him within seconds of having had sight of the listing. It turns out that the watch was previously owned by someone I know and who’s even more fussy than I am (and I’m quite fussy), so I was pretty sure it would be a good watch! It arrived yesterday, and after being somewhat frustrated looking at the package on my desk for a couple of hours I sneaked off to the loo, unpacked it and popped it on my wrist. (The activity in the cubicles either side of mine was a bit disconcerting, but needs must.)
I’ve gone from 1960′s vintages of both GMT and 5513 to 1980′s versions of both, not really meaning to but subconsciously gravitating towards watches that are slightly more robust and wearable. I have to admit that I’m over the moon with this one – it’s as nice a GMT from this era as I’ve ever seen and a perfect partner for my 5513 of similar age.
Just a couple of photos, showing that lovely dial and faded fat font insert…
I’ve bought quite a few DB10s in the past, but last week bought my first Heuerville… a distressed black saddle leather in 20mm that was intended for my Autavia GMT. Stewart had warned me that it was tough to get it on an Autavia due to the thickness, and he wasn’t kidding. In fact I gave up after a few minutes as I didn’t want to risk marking the case.
Anyway, I had a bit of a think and came up with an alternative use for it. It looks great, I think (I know, it’s too dark to see exactly what it looks like ;)).
There’s been a fair bit of talk on TZ-UK recently regarding the Seagull 1963 reissue. The original watch was made for the Chinese Air Force in (you’ve guessed it) 1963, and the latest version is true to it’s predecessor save that the movement has a couple of extra jewels.
Discussion has abounded regarding crystals and case-backs, and in the midst of it all I managed to satisfy a yearning that’s been building for some time now. I purchased mine over at Watchunique, and ordered it with the domed acrylic crystal and solid case-back. The cost was all of £181, and I’m more than happy with my choices as I think they look “right” and are as authentic as possible. FedEx delivered the package from the Netherlands within three days or ordering too, which is lucky because I happened to be working from home today when I got the knock.
As for the watch itself… well, it’s never going to compete with the big-hitters costing a whole lot more (it’s a cheaply-printed dial, and there are some very minor QC issues) but for the money you can’t deny that it’s some achievement. A hand-wound, 21 jewel column-wheel chronograph, lovely play on colours (gold, red and blue) and applied indices that really catch the light. This one is 38mm and it comes with an 18mm olive NATO that suits it perfectly. I’ve ordered a couple of striped alternatives (red/sand and sand/red) as well as a solid brown, and I’m sure it’ll be fun switching them around. All in all, you can’t argue with the value, and it’s certainly one of the prettiest watches I’ve seen. I love it
Actually, my third Autavia GMT 16630. Well, I let that amazing NOS example go because I couldn’t bring myself to wear it, but I do love these watches and knew at some point I’d buy another. Yesterday I met up with a few guys from TZ, and took the opportunity to complete a trade with my old mucker Simon for this lovely thing. It looks more vintage than my previous examples but the dial is unmarked and Abel Court has given the case a light refinish. Aside from that it’s had a movement service from TAG so it really is in lovely nick.
Aside from a new watch (and some new – very expensive – boots) it was nice to hook up with everyone, ogle some watches, have a very good lunch and enjoy a beer or two.
A few years ago, I seemed to be spending half my time on planes as I managed a series of projects across Europe. Anyone who flies regularly on business will know what a pain in the backside it can be, but I took solace from the fact that I could ogle watches in places like Geneva and Munich (airports, I mean) and occasionally play spot-the-watch on the flights themselves. Anyway, on the second leg of a flight to Ljubljana – that’s in Slovenia, by the way – one day a pretty smart businessman sat next to me and proceeded to read the paper. I couldn’t help but notice his watch, which was a steel and rose gold Datejust Turn-O-Graph with white dial and jubilee bracelet and, from that moment, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for one. I think they’re beautiful.
The Turn-O-Graph/Thunderbird was first introduced in 1953 and gained its moniker for being the watch provided to the Thunderbird aeronautics squadron of the US Air Force. It’s always received a mixed response as, with its rotating fluted bezel, it’s not quite a dress watch and not quite a sports watch (which is actually precisely what I like about it). That said, there was a host of iterations prior to the current datejust version and some of the vintage models are highly sought-after. Personally, I’ve never liked the older references but that’s not to say that I can’t appreciate them for what they were/are.
So, not long ago I received a heads-up from a member on TZ regarding a Rolex (and other) dealership in Malaga that was having a bit of a clear-out. Fast forward to today, and I received the first watch I’ve bought new from an AD for some time, and the watch I’ve been hankering for since that flight I mentioned earlier. It’s a reference 116264, in stainless steel and white gold. the dial is the blue that Rolex does so well, and there’s more than a hint of red (in the second hand, the model name and the date wheel) that gives it an extra touch of vibrancy. I love the blue with red accents, and the dial changes quite dramatically depending on the way that the light hits it. The photos below show that quite well, I think.
I’m very pleased with it!
I’ve fancied trying as full-lume Damasko for a while now, and was quite impressed with one I saw in the metal when I had a coffee with Jonathan from Page & Cooper the other day. Anyway, circumstances were such that I got an opportunity to nab a DC57 that landed a couple of days ago, so I thought I’d take a few photos whilst I was in the mood.
The quality is certainly outstanding, and the finish of the ice-hardened steel case is superb; I love the way the crystal all but disappears, too. Whether or not it stays beyond the short term remains to be seen, as my first reaction is that it lacks a little… warmth. That said, maybe I’ll give it some time as I’m fed up with selling watches and then wishing I hadn’t done so.
Anyway, the photos…
A couple of people asked me to post an up to date SOTC recently, so here it is – no changes of late and I won’t be selling any of these any time soon. I quite like the mix of modern and vintage, and there are quite a few different styles and complications in there. I must say that I’m particularly fond of the 806 (which needs a new strap) and the 5513, although I wear all of them regularly and get a lot of pleasure from each of them.
I had 17 watches not that long ago and am much more comfortable with a smaller and more manageable collection (that said, I do have a little package on the way). Anyway, I hope you like the pack-shot
I’m pretty happy with my lot at the moment, but nonetheless I have a couple of incomings due this week. I’ll post about the other one when it arrives, but the first is a JLC Master Compressor Chronograph dating from 2006. It’s just had a full spa and service at JLC and is pretty much mint, and this acquisition came after quite a few months of thought.
I first tried on a Master Compressor (a geographic, in fact) a couple of years ago when I met another watch fanatic for a chat and a cuppa, and I was really impressed with the build quality. Bearing in mind that JLC is my favourite brand I always knew I’d end up buying one and whilst I’ve considered a few models since then the Chrono is a the one I’ve gone for. I find some a bit too cluttered – let’s face it, this dial isn’t exactly plain – and having worn the watch all day I’m happy that I did the right thing in biding my time. It wears really nicely at 41.5mm and actually sits under a cuff very easily (it’s not at all deep, which helps). It’s a kind of smart/sporty mix and I think I’ll wear it rather a lot.
Please excuse the naff position of the hands in the photos – I’m VERY tired for a host of reasons and have a stinking cold, so I wasn’t at my sharpest!
Well, after a bit of a delay (sorry for that – life took over) I’m delighted to publish another guest post – this one from my mate Carl (“Feelingtheblues” on The Rolex Forum) in which he muses about his gorgeous vintage LeCoultre from the 1940′s. Thanks, Carl!
Vintage Watch Review: 1940’s Jaeger-LeCoultre manual winding watch in stainless steel
Since its creation in 1833, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been a synonym of haute horlogerie and high quality timepieces. For some, this may be nothing more than mere marketing and many would be able to say the same about a lot of other brands but in my humble opinion there is an important detail that makes it different if compared to others… Jaeger-Lecoultre is not only a company, it’s a manufacture of watch movements.
Same thing, different name? I would beg to differ! With about 1 200 calibres and 400 patents, the manufacture has played a very important role in watchmaking, whether we are talking about technological advances or performance increases. Surprisingly, despite its collaborations with Patek Philippe, Cartier and many other brands (to which it has sold a great amount of movements and ébauches), it seems like this name isn’t one that comes to the mind of enthusiasts when we talk about collectibles (unless we are talking about a Reverso from the 1930’s, some Grandes Complications or an original Memovox Deepsea). A lot of those watches can be found on Ebay, especially the LeCoultre’s sold to the American market, and with a bit of patience one can get a pretty good deal on them.
There are some of those purchases that, even if you had been thinking about them, just seem to come up and surprise you. In all honesty I have to say it’s exactly what happened with this one! I had read about Jaeger-LeCoultre and learned a lot of things that made my watchmaking student self admire the name but didn’t really get into shopping for one. It was quite a good timing that, upon lurking ads on a watch forum, I came across one selling a small model in stainless steel and decided to let curiosity get the better of me.
The first thing that I noticed was, obviously, the dial; a champagne-coloured, very simple round one with applied arrow markers and Arabic numerals for the four quarters that match the gold coloured hands. Not only was the contrast with the stainless steel mesmerising but the patina that had developed on it made the whole face of the watch look a tad darker. I found that the watch had aged very beautifully and that the minute ring, along with the brand name (the shortened form of which indicates that this watch had been made and sold for the European market), remained very crisp looking; I had been warned by the seller that it may be an old refurbishing job but under my loupe it didn’t look like it. Alas, it happens that such information gets lost as the watch goes from one owner to another so I cannot confirm that the dial has never been touched or that the case and lugs have not been polished, but as far as I’m concerned if such things were done to the watch they haven’t ruined it like many other poorly done jobs I’ve seen around.
The 32mm round and mirror finished case would make a lot of people cringe; nowadays this would be considered a woman’s size but one could be surprised as I know a lot of ladies who would prefer to have a bigger timepiece on their wrists. Some would be able to settle down to such a size should the case be a cushion style as the corners would make it wear bigger but neither its shape nor its very small crown help this timepiece to look bigger. Yet, this is one of the things that made it ever so attractive to me. Its elegant and subtle size makes it a wonderful dress watch as well as a good size for a casual one (in my humble opinion, of course), the wrist surrounds it in a beautiful way and in my mind there’s no doubt that this is a vintage man’s watch. You may also notice the tear drop lugs, a classic among details on Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watches.
There’s no doubt that the external look of the watch is a very important thing to look at when shopping, however, in this case the interior of the watch was just as important to me. I have many lower end timepieces that I have bought because I found them beautiful but for this one I knew that I was also getting a well built and beautifully finished movement. The brass bridges make the whole movement pop out when you open the case back and their finishing is outstanding: côtes de Genève stripes, beveled edges and elegant yet sharp forms… everything makes you think that they’ve paid a lot of attention to details whilst producing this calibre.
All in all, for a lot of people this watch would look like a mere small accessory made to tell time, this is something that made this watch a great purchase to me. Its simplicity makes it an elegant timepiece, yet, as a vintage watch enthusiast and as a fan of companies with a great historical background, the gears and parts inside this small case make me understand why Jaeger-LeCoultre is such a respected brand in the world of haute horlogerie and make me want to fully agree with that statement. To me it’s more than having a watch with a fancy name, it’s knowing what this name really represents, whether a lot of people know it and agree with it or not.
…Sitting at home the other night giving myself a pat on the back for finally getting down to my target of 6 watches (not bad, considering I’d been on 17 just a few months ago). Anyway, I got to thinking about the ones I missed – not that high a proportion, considering I’ve flipped so many – and one of those that sprung to mind was my old Speedy “Grail”.
Now, I missed it partly for the lovely watch that it was but also because inside was the veritable Lemania 5100 movement, which in itself is more than a little interesting. It was the successor to the 1340/1341, which had been in production since 1972 or thereabouts, and was developed in order to provide a cost-effective alternative to the cheap quartz movements that were flooding the market at the time. The 5100 wasn’t innovative in any way (in fact, it’s considered somewhat antiquated) and it was actually made with one or two nylon parts – for example, the clutch wheel – as well as iron bearings in place of certain jewels that would otherwise have been used.
It was quite simply a rugged workhorse of a movement, but whilst it gained respect for that, the main reason that it has become so lauded over the years is because it offers a different and rather brilliant take on the chronograph functionality. Underneath the main chronograph hand is another (aeroplane-tipped) hand that actually traverses the dial counting off elapsed minutes; this is much easier to read than a sub-dial, and it means that there is only one chronograph-related sub-dial, that being the elapsed hours (at 6). At 9 is the sub-seconds and at 12 is a 24-hour register. Very different, very useful and very readable.
So, back to the other night, then, and I started off thinking about the Speedy and its movement. That got me thinking about the Ed White in my collection at the moment, with it’s rich history and heritage in terms of the space programme. And that’s when I had an epiphany, because I was bloody sure I recalled that there was also a Sinn that was used during the early years of the space programme, and which also used the L5100 movement. A few minutes of research, and I had identified the watch concerned – the Sinn 142.
This is actually an interesting watch. It was once thought to have been the first automatic chronograph in space, and indeed subsequent case backs were so engraved. However, that honour actually went to the Seiko “Pogue” 6139-6002, which spent a few months on the wrist of Colonel William Pogue aboard Skylab 4 in 1973. (Incidentally, although a lot of people believe that the L5100 was first used in 1978, from what I can gather it was actually developed for Omega in 1973, and used in the Speedmaster from the following year.)
Anyway, the Sinn 142 was worn – as the second automatic chronograph in space – by Reinhard Furrer aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1985. Mission STS 61-a (also known as D1… remember that) was the 22[SUP]nd[/SUP] space shuttle mission, and was the last successful mission of the Challenger, which was destroyed during mission STS-51-L in 1986. STS-61-A currently holds the record for the largest crew, eight people, aboard any single spacecraft for the entire period from launch to landing.
So, those were the sparks in terms of both the movement and the watch that prompted me to post a “Want To Buy” ad the other day for a L5100-powered Sinn 142. No sooner had I posted it, than I had a message from a friend of mine saying that he’d actually just listed one for sale. Within minutes a deal had been done and a couple of days ago the watch landed on the doormat (well, I opened the door to the postman and carefully relieved him of the package). There are a few interesting things about this watch too.
Firstly, it carries the number 1420008 on the caseback. Bearing in mind the caseback is engraved with the D1 mission logo it doesn’t seem possible that it can be one of the earliest examples as this engraving only occurred after 1985 for obvious reasons; it also has the newer dial variant. Anyway, I’m waiting for Sinn to clarify the meaning of that number and hopefully all will be revealed shortly. The other interesting thing (but only for me, I imagine) is that it’s not mint, and shows very obvious signs that it’s been used as intended over the years. I’m currently trying to wean myself off only perfect and mark-free examples of older watches in order that I can wear them without worrying about them all the time. It remains to be seen whether or not I’m successful
Not too long ago I was rejoicing the absence of divers in my now relatively small collection, having just moved on my second Great White in favour of a white gold Zenith Daytona. In fact, in the past I’ve had two of those beauties as well as two of the nicest 5513s that I’ve ever seen, not to mention a near perfect 1680. I suppose I’ve enjoyed something of a love affair with vintage Rolex divers and for some reason I’d decided that it needed to come to an end; in part, I suspect it was because I was a bit uncomfortable having so much money invested in a tool watch (at least, so far as the 1665s were concerned) which then made me worried about wearing them in all but the safest environments.
Anyway the upshot was that I tried to buy back my last 5513, unsuccessfully it transpired, and then set my sights on finding another really good example. At the same time, a TZ-UK member with whom I’d dealt before dropped me an email asking if I’d be prepared to let him have the Daytona and suggesting that I might want – you’ve guessed it – his 5513 in part trade. Well, a long exchange of emails transpired, but finally we got to the position where a deal could be done; yesterday, after a long wait, my 5513 arrived.
This watch dates from 1981, and benefits from a NOS Tropic 19 Superdome crystal as well as a period-correct NOS 93150 bracelet. The dial is perfect, with gorgeous lemon-coloured plots and the hands are absolutely free of any corrosion (the flash makes them look a little bit lighter than the plots but in reality they’re a perfect match in terms of colour). It’s actually a Mark IV maxi dial, for anyone interested. Aside from the serial range being a pointer it’s recognisable by the sans serif font, the size and position of the plots and the relative positioning of the bottom text (and specifically the “=” symbol). It also has a beautifully faded fat font insert, which whilst being a little early to be absolutely correct for the watch gives it an appearance that I think is quite sublime. Aside from that, it has a really fat case and lugs, which means I don’t have to worry too much if it picks up some marks and consequently needs a tart-up at some point in the future.
Anyway, I’ve now reverted to my two non-Rolex dressier watches in the JLC and the GO, and certainly won’t be making the error of moving the 5513 on again in the future. If once is careless and twice is foolhardy, three times would be downright stupidity.
I have a lot of respect for Cartier as a manufacturer of watches, and some may remember a post I wrote in November 2012 after I bought a Tank Basculante, in which I made those feelings clear. That was a gorgeous watch but proved to be a tad small for me, and ultimately it had to make way for a Reverso that I’ve been enjoying for many months now.
Anyway, I’ve been looking at the Santos for some time as a possible replacement, and yesterday I was offered one in mint condition and at a good price so decided to give it a go. I’m very impressed actually, as the quality and finish are superb. It’s the 100 XL, and whilst a large watch the curved case and relatively short lugs mean that it sits perfectly on my 6.75″ wrist. In fact, the case without the lugs and crown guards only seems to measure about 38mm square, which is slightly smaller than the 41mm quoted on the net (either way, it’s nowhere near as big as I thought it would be). The movement is an ETA base, the dial a traditional Cartier Roman numeral non-date, and the mix of polished and brushed surfaces gives it an appearance that’s both sporty and dressy.
Was the Santos the first ever wristwatch? Possibly – it’s a bloody good story anyway, though!
These two watches have taught me a very important lesson when it comes to vintage, and one that has altered my whole perception of what I like. I’ve spent the last couple of years looking for old watches that are so pristine that they might never have been worn, but throughout that time I’ve been missing the point.
I love these watches so much, and part of the reason is that wearing them feels like I’ve inherited their history – because you can see that history at a glance. In fact, this has struck home to such an extent that I’ll almost certainly move on my NOS Autavia GMT and replace it with something that looks… well, a bit older.
Funny game, this.
A while ago I was asked to take some shots for a jewellery website that’s under construction. The jewellery is bespoke and beautiful, and the designer actually made Bea’s engagement ring as well as our wedding bands.
Anyway, it had been a while since I’d shot any serious photos (although I’d never done anything like this before), and matters were complicated by the fact that when the lights that had been hired for me were unusable; I therefore had to shoot everything with natural light only, balanced on some precariously broken steps outside the French windows. Still, I was quite pleased with how they came out, bearing in mind I had to put up with shallow depths of field and shutter speeds that were in reality a little too slow!