Diver-sity

I know we tend to desk dive in these parts (okay, not all of us), but there is a commonly-held view that a collection of divers is – by definition – a bit “samey”. Even I’ve thought that in the past, and in fact made a supreme effort to build a collection without any at one time. I succeeded. too.

Anyway, a comment on a TZ member’s thread about his incoming Deep Blue made me think about this for a moment, and I realised that the four divers I have are all very different from each other; different enough to each warrant a place in the watch box on their own merit (and the one that’s presently listed for sale will pretty soon be back in there, and I’ll be happy to keep it). Anyway, this is what I mean…

“In the Navy…”

This has got to have been the longest wait yet. In fact, I reckon it must have been the best part of two years ago that I first pestered someone on TZ-UK to sell me his rather special CWC Royal Navy Diver. Obviously, he said no – but I kept persevering, every so often reminding him that I was still here until, finally, the PM arrived.

I’ve been on a perennial hunt for a beater – the “right” beater – and now I’ve found it. Well, thanks to Mario, of course :)

Officine Panerai Assolutamente

Assolutamente means, apparently “absolutely”. No idea why a strap should be absolutely anything, save that this one is absolutely lovely. I’ve been looking for the right brown strap (and “look”) for my 337 for ages, in fact, and the ironic thing is that I nearly returned this to the seller when it arrived; I’m glad I didn’t and can’t see any of my other PAM straps getting a look-in now.

Not part of the plan…

Seriously, I’m meant to be saving up for an AP (no, a PP. Errr, an AP…) and I was more than happy with my lot for now. You know what this hobby is like, though, and I’m pretty sure that it’s been about three months since I bought anything. Well, apart from the Tuna, obviously ;)

Anyway, I LOVE Glashutte Original watches – they’re my favourite manufacturer by some margin, in fact, and although I already owned their glorious PC my head was turned recently when trying on the PanoInverse over a WIS lunch in the City. I managed to fight off that urge, but when the PanomaticLunar that a friend bought new only last year was listed for sale on TZ-UK it was just too much! It’s my 5th GO, and possibly vies with my PC in terms of overall loveliness.

I’m not sure if this will now mean that something has to make way for the AP/PP, but hopefully I won’t have to make any painful decisions (I just need a mooted contract extension, so keep your fingers crossed for me). For now, I won’t worry about it, anyway, and I’ll just think myself lucky instead.

The eye of the beholder

The U1 is a bit like the Tuna in some ways… a beast of a watch and one that’s not immediately, not obviously, beautiful (okay, the Tuna’s a fugly thing, but you know what I mean). I think, though, that it can be surprisingly aesthetic and – like the Tuna – it’s a very versatile watch. It looks good in so many different guises, and it offers so much variety because of that.

I thought I had it just how I wanted it but a Sinn rubber (with the chunky but wonderfully-engineered clasp) arrived today and… well, I love it. Wouldn’t you?

But talk about being spoilt for choice! Every strap I mount has the same impact, looking like it was just meant for the watch.

Yes, even the bracelet!

I wish I’d bought one years ago.

A birthday SOTC

Yes, it’s my birthday today, so it seemed like a good reason to post about my current collection, as it won’t be changing now for some time, if at all.

The moonphase collection

Yes, it’s a rather pointless complication – I realise that. However, for some reason I love them, and these two are so different in terms of style and approach that I think they offer variety whilst being conceptually similar. The Glashutte Original is of course a Perpetual Calendar so in terms of horological craftsmanship alone it’s worthy of admiration; aside from that, it’s Teutonic magnificence is there for all to see… wonderfully finished movement, meticulous design of dial and overall build quality that’s up there with the very best of them. The JLC MUT Moon (this is the 39mm model) is altogether different in both look and feel, and somehow seems to marry the traditional and the modern in one gorgeous package. Oh, and the movement is a mere 4.9mm thick – amazing really, considering it provides a moonphase complication within a watch that’s so light you barely know you’re wearing it.

I do love both of these watches, and wear them a fair bit (albeit less than any of the others, I have to say).

The vintage collection

I’ve been on something of a journey with regard to vintage Rolex, and am lucky enough to have owned some wonderful watches that have included a McQueen Explorer, a red Submariner and a couple of Great Whites. I’ve also enjoyed sixties vintage 5513s and 1675s but all of these were moved on before I settled on the two I’ll now keep; a 1981 5513 and a 1983 16750. Both of these watches are supreme examples, with wonderfully fat cases and beautifully-aged dials and hands; they’re also (deliberately) both of an age where they’re still pretty robust and don’t have to be babied too much. In retrospect, this seems to have been important in my decision-making process and the consequence is that I just enjoy wearing them (a lot) and don’t have to worry about their delicacy. I also much prefer the 16750, with its quick-set date, to the earlier 1675… it shares all the vintage charms of its older brother without the disadvantage of the date change mechanism (or lack of).

The other vintage piece is an old Tuna 7549-7010 from 1978. I absolutely love Tunas but there’s a real difference between old and new, and I realised having sold one of these before that I really do enjoy owning and wearing them. The replacement I picked up recently is a wonderful example, too.

The “smart/casual” collection

Now, these two took a great deal of thought, as they could easily have morphed into a PP Aquanaut; in fact, the decision was all but made and the Aquanaut I ordered came into stock at Boodles about a week ago. In the event, though, two things happened. Firstly, I realised that the PAM 337 – a 42mm model with all the characteristics of the classic Panerai – really is a fantastic watch; it can be dressed up or down, is very slim in addition to it’s other sensible dimensions, and is an absolute pleasure to wear. Secondly, I was offered a NIB Daytona at the precise moment that a long-drawn out deal for another one finally failed to materialise. I couldn’t quite justify (effectively) trading these two for the Aquanaut, but I’ll be honest and say that it’s still a possibility for the future.

I’ll take some time (by which I mean months) before determining once and for all whether or not I go down that route, though, as a wrong decision could be quite costly and I find both of these watches fit the same bill as the PP… consummately smart, beautifully casual and wonderfully adaptable.

And the beater!

Well, it’s not really a beater, to be honest. What it is, though, is a brute of a watch that – for the money – is near unbeatable in its class. The U1 is a bit marmite in that the hands tend to polarise opinion, but the build quality is unarguable as is the distinctive style that sets it apart from other divers. I find it a tad heavy on it’s bracelet, but on a Zulu (and I have five different colours for it) it comes into it’s own. Is there a more perfect weekend/holiday watch?

So, there you have it then… eight watches rather than the six I really wanted to settle on, but for now and the immediate future I’m perfectly content.

There – I’ve said it!

Well, I did say a while back that once I’d managed to pick up an Aquanaut I’d be done with messing about with my collection and would take something of a back seat in terms of watch forums generally, and buying & selling specifically. In fact, I set my sights on a 6-watch collection, with the Aquanaut replacing my lovely PAM337 as the final piece in my little jigsaw. Funny, isn’t it, how things never seem to go to plan?

So, not long after selling my white gold Daytona (one watch that I really did wish I’d hung on to) I provisionally agreed to buy a SS version from a member of TZ-UK who’s based just outside the EU VAT zone. We discussed various options regarding transit and delivery, and agreed to wait for a suitable visit by either he himself or a member of his family, at which point we’d complete the deal. Anyway, to cut a long story short the whole thing was forgotten after my horrible start to the year; until a couple of weeks ago, that is, when I fired off an email only to find he was actually in the UK (Daytona-less) at the time. It was becoming quite clear that the watch gods were not smiling on us, and I somewhat reluctantly agreed to accept that – on this occasion – it wasn’t going to happen.

Now, here’s the funny thing… almost immediately we agreed to call it a day, I was handed an opportunity to buy another white dialled SS Daytona, completely unworn and still fully stickered even though it was bought in 2012. This one was in London, and I was faced with a very clear choice – keep the 337, add the Daytona and call it a day; or pass on the Daytona, sell the 337 and go for the PP. Either way, it was going to be my final buying and/or selling activity for the foreseeable future, and after a great deal of thought I made a decision. I think it was the right one, but really, who knows? What I do know is that they’re only watches, so I won’t be losing any sleep over it.

Just a word about why I like the Daytona so much, by the way. Yes, it has heritage aplenty, and yes, it has a truly wonderful movement… probably one of the best chronograph movements ever made, in fact. It’s also a fantastically adaptable watch that can be dressed up or down, and worn with a DJ or a pair of jeans. All of that aside, though, I sometimes fancy a bit of bling, and want my watch to feel like jewellery as well as a timepiece.

There – I’ve said it :)

Who’d ‘a thunk it?

I’ve spent a small fortune on aged, faded inserts to try to give my vintage watches the appearance that I like. The other day, though, I popped onto the VRF just before turning in for the night and the first post in the market was a listing for a NOS 1675/0 medium font insert. It looked perfect, and bearing in mind it was period correct for my watch I thought I’d give it a whirl for a slightly different look. (Fortunately, GMT inserts don’t command the ridiculous prices of those for the old Subs, and this one was a very fair €130 delivered from Germany).

It’s certainly different, and to my mind it’s bloody gorgeous.

No longer missed!

Of all the watches I’ve sold (and there have been quite a few) I can honestly say that there are only a few that I’ve missed. One of them – strangely, perhaps – was the ’78 vintage 7549-7010… a very wearable Tuna as well as being a rather lovely one. Anyway, despite my intentions to whittle down the number in my collection I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to replace it, and this is another from the same year in very, very nice condition. It had a new battery last year and recently got treated to a NOS Hardlex crystal, new seals and a nice fresh pressure test (all courtesy of TZ-UK’s one and only Duncan/Cannop).

Duncan reckoned it was one of the best he’d seen. He knows what he’s talking about…

The only question now is whether I need both this and my much-loved U1. I have a buyer for the latter, in fact, but I don’t want to let it go. I’ll wear them both for now, and decide another time.

A simple solution

It occurred to me today that I don’t wear either of my moonphase watches as often as I’d like, and then I realised it’s because both of them are on black straps (yes, I do actually match my watches to my clothes). Anyway, I had a shiny, large-scaled alligator strap in brown that came with the Glashutte PC, so…

It looks really nice, I think.

Well, it seems that I CAN do it…

Not long ago I asked, rhetorically, whether or not I could reduce to five or six watches. (Well, I said five, but as every good WIS knows there’s always room for an additional beater :) ). The answer, it appears, is “yes” – the mini-cull is now complete and aside from making a decision on whether the PAM337 gets replaced by an Aquanaut I’m finished with buying and selling. In fact, before today it was definitely going to be the Aquanaut, but the truth is that these 42mm Radiomirs are so sublime on the wrist that I may just put that acquisition on a very long hold.

Anyway, this is what I have left, and it’s what I’m staying with. The only changes from the original plan are that I’ve kept the JLC MUT Moon instead of the Speedy (some will say I’m mad, but others will agree with the choice made).

In fairness, I’ve also kept a more recently acquired Sinn U1. It’s such a fantastic watch for the money, and it’s also the best everyday watch that I’ve owned and perfect for use on holidays, both on the Bach and in the pool. It’s just not worth selling it, frankly.