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.

Pan Am didn’t know what they started

In all, there have been 7 variants of the GMT Master, and it all started with the 6542 (made famous by Pussy Galore in my favourite of the “old” bond movies) which was developed for Pan Am as a true aviator watch. I think I’ve had four different models so far, but this has to be the best of them; all the vintage loveliness of the much-vaunted 1675 but with a higher beat movement and quick-set date.

The 16750 was produced from 1981-1988, but only the earlier models had a matt dial. The gloss dial with white gold indices is still a lovely watch… just not quite as lovely.

Lets hear it for the…

I’ve lost count of the number of watches that I’ve bought and sold in my previously-eternal hunt for a “beater”. The term, for me, is used relatively loosely as I don’t need a watch that I’ll wear when it’s likely to get scuffed and dented… for that, I have a Casio (or I’ll take my watch off, which seems to me to be fairly sensible). When I refer to a beater I suppose I mean an everyday, “go to” watch that I’m not overly concerned about as it’s an inherently tough build and it doesn’t represent a significant (in relative terms) investment. Something I don’t have to worry too much about.

In the past, my focus has been Seikos of one description or another. I’ve had at least half a dozen Tunas, and probably more than that in vintage 6309 and/or 6105 divers. The Tuna was always a favourite, actually, but whilst I love the fugly things the propensity NEVER to sit under any type of clothing proved to be a bit too annoying. Anyway, after a few weeks of wear I’ve concluded that I’ve found the perfect watch for the task. Built like a tank, just about adaptable enough to wear with reasonably smart clothes but an out and out beast of a tool watch when all’s said and done. On the bracelet I find it a touch on the heavy side, although it’s still comfortable enough; on a Zulu, though, it comes into its own. I have five different coloured straps for it, in fact, although in the photo below it’s on my current favourite.

Let’s hear it for the U1!

Can I do it?

I was chatting to a watch-collecting friend over a pint or two on Sunday evening, and was trying to articulate how recent life-changing events have made me look differently at this hobby, and the excesses it encourages. Right now, I feel (for want of a better word) guilty for the time and money I spend on what are, essentially, trinkets and I was suggesting that I may just keep four or five and then push the whole WIS thing to the background. Focus on more meaningful things.

Anyway, I initially suggested that I’d just keep a few new pieces and do away with anything vintage as it would theoretically be a lot less hassle (well, no hassle at all). However, Howard made the logical argument that the vintage pieces – especially those I’m lucky enough to own – are the ones that would be the hardest to replace with similar quality examples. I’ve thought about that, and have decided that he’s right; in fact, I now know the five watches that are my keepers and, consequently, I understand the task ahead. Here they are, and wish me luck… I’ve given myself until the end of the year to get down to these and then kiss the whole “flipping” merry-go-round goodbye.

Oh, and if anyone actually reads this nonsense feel free to share your view via the comments function!

Those I miss…

For one reason or another – actually, for very personal reasons if truth be told – I was thinking about those few watches (of the many that I’ve sold) that I genuinely miss. Some have been replaced with like for like so don’t figure in this post, but the others of that ilk still leave me feeling like something of a fool for letting them go… because you just don’t see them often; they were superb examples and would therefore be very hard to replace; or because to replace them would cost me a whole lot more than I received for mine. (Or any combination thereof!)

Anyway, here they are, in no particular order…

Full circle!

In many ways, my horological journey has been a strangely circular one. Whilst I’ve had a healthy interest in watches for far longer, the catalyst for the collecting madness that became the basis for this blog was the acquisition of a modern Submariner a few years ago. At the time, I thought I was just buying a watch… what I didn’t know was that my quest for information and knowledge regarding it’s history and heritage would lead to me to register with a number of watch forums; and that, in doing so, I would be opening the door to the candy store.

That Submariner – a classic 16610 – was the first of many watches that bore the Rolex logo, but over time my interest switched to vintage, and to be fair that’s where it remains in many ways. However, some (embarrassing number of) watches later and once again I have a modern Submariner on my wrist. This time, however, I’ve succumbed to the force of change because – finally, and after many, many months of yearning – it’s the maxi-cased 116610LV. The Hulk.

Now, as a traditionalist when it comes to watches it’s taken me quite some time to get to this point. Initially I regarded the dimensions of the case (well, the lugs) as almost comical but over time I’ve realised that the response was more one of intransigence than dislike. I’ll admit that it took me a day or so to get used to the size and heft, but it’s not unlike buying a new television that’s a little larger than the last; when you set it up the immediate response is “My god, it’s huge” but a day or so later and it feels like you could almost have gone for something even bigger. Even the vague feelings of discomfort disappeared very quickly, and after 48 hours or so of constant wear I still don’t want to take it off.

The dial is nothing short of mesmerising. As it catches the light at different angles, the starburst finish changes from a bold green to near-black, never looking the same as the last time you glanced at it. It’s one of those watches that I find myself gazing at for no reason, just because… well, it’s beautiful. As for the bracelet, there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s a massive improvement on the older models. The Glidelock mechanism makes adjustment instant and simple, and the clasp itself is reassuringly substantial.

All in all, I’m overwhelmingly delighted. It’s nice, too, to have a new AD-supplied watch and to be the first to wear it (and bizarrely this is the second in less than a month that fits that description). There’s no lessening of my love for vintage, but what has become patently obvious is that there’s more than enough room for both. Well, not in the box, but that’s another story…

A long wait!

I love Sinn watches (that’s “Zinn” to you). They’re so… utilitarian and functional, and they just feel like they’ll last forever. I’ve had quite a few in the past, and until yesterday had just one in my collection, but over the years I’ve had a growing desire to own a U1. I’ve actually flipped a couple of UX’s as I’m not really a quartz man, but the U1 has had me hooked since I tried one on in Jura about three years ago. (Bea was with me at the time, and she said it was probably the ugliest watch that she’d ever seen).

It really is just a a big lump of beautiful, satiny steel… tegimented so it’s very, very hard but also with those quirky red and white hands that give it a completely unique look. It’s not shy at 44mm, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to wear overly large on the wrist – probably because of the relatively small and quite tapered lugs. Anyway, I’ve posted a couple of WTBs in the past and have been nagging one or two people repeatedly over the last few months. Nobody seems to let these go once they get their hands on them and I was also looking for a real minter, but a couple of days ago I happened to log on just as a really lovely example (less than a year old) was listed for sale. Hallelujah.

I had intended to put it straight onto a Di Modell Chronissimo but to be honest it looks so good on the bracelet I’ll probably leave it as is. It certainly isn’t a disappointment, anyway, and for me it makes the perfect weekend watch.

Size matters

I know that a lot of people don’t “get” Panerai. The company has taken some self-inflicted flak through the odd marketing faux-pas and a sometimes crazy pricing strategy, and I’ve heard a few people write the brand off on the basis that all of their models are “ugly”. Well, I’m no fanboy (hmmm… maybe I am, just a little) but I do think I’ve been very fortunate to have owned the much vaunted Luminor 233, and to still possess its equally sublime Radiomir cousin, the 268. These watches are wonderful, both in terms of the majesty of the three-barrelled, 8 day in-house movements and the very obvious build quality. What I’ve learned, though, is that for my relatively slim wrists the Radiomir range gives me a more comfortable fit.

The 268 is a 45mm watch, and whilst this is mitigated by the Radiomir lug design its still a relatively hefty beast. This, and some of the recent threads I’ve read over on TZ-UK regarding the smaller 42mm designs, prompted me to think seriously about adding a 337 or 338 to my collection, and a decision was made pretty swiftly when a member there posted a heads-up relating to some exceedingly rare discounts on new pieces that were available for a very limited time. The following day I’d paid for a brand new 337, and today it arrived in a rather hefty package that I barely had a chance to open before leaving the office and heading home. Obviously, the watch is now on my wrist, and very, very pleased I am too.

The 337 is part of Panerai’s “Historic” range. Inside is the calibre P999/1 – a hand-wound mechanical movement beating at 21,600 alternations/hour, executed entirely by Panerai and measuring 12 lignes and 3 mm thick. It has 19 jewels, a Glucydur balance, Incabloc anti-shock device, a power reserve of 60 hours and 144 individual components. It really is rather pretty…

The fantastically clear dial is has subsidiary seconds at 9, and aside from that features what I think is Panerai’s wonderful sandwich construction. The lume on both dial and hands is inordinately bright, and the impression of the whole in terms of fit and finish is one of quality and heft.

The thing I’m really pleased about is the size. My wrist is about 6.75″ and the 42mm case wears absolutely perfectly. Because it’s also relatively slim it fits under a shirt cuff without any problem at all, and will therefore serve perfectly as both a dressy and casual watch. (I know a lot of people feel that 42mm is too small for a Panerai, but to be honest that kind of judgement can only be made on the basis of wrist size; I’m sure those with 8-9″ wrists may well prefer the larger cases, but it’s horses for courses in my view.)

Anyway, that’s enough rambling, so here’s a few photos that hopefully convey what a beautiful watch this is. And those of you that haven’t yet tried a Panerai – don’t write them off without giving them a chance. The two ranges (Luminor and Radiomir) and so different that there’s really little comparison, and the quality and finish may just surprise you!

Another rare Sinn!

I’m a bit of a fan of Sinn watches. I’m a fan of the Lemania 5100 movement too, and not long ago both came together when I managed to pick up a really lovely 142 in great aged condition. I wrote about it here so I won’t bother rambling on about the movement again, but suffice it top say a friend from TZ-UK managed to convince me that I should trade it against his Autavia GMT. Now, I’d just sold the stunning NOS GMT I’d had for some time and was feeling a little bereft, so I agreed to the deal and let the Sinn slip through my fingers after just a few weeks. I shouldn’t have done that, really.

Anyway, I considered the situation for a while, and then decided to go on the hunt for the “real” first second automatic chronograph in space. Not the Seiko Pogue (that really was the first) and not the Sinn 142… but the 140, as worn by Reinhard Furrer back in 1985 aboard the Challenger. The 140 didn’t have the same dial layout nor did it have the same movement – but it was a Lemania-powered watch and I reckon the dial with it’s two registers was actually a little cleaner.

I was quite happily biding my time, in fact, when that same friend gave me a heads up that there was something slightly different available on another forum, and as soon as I saw it I knew it was the one for me. A few days later and it had landed from Italy, well packed and looking rather lush. The watch in question is a Sinn 157 St 12. It’s not very common, and I don’t recall seeing any before, but it’s certainly pretty interesting. The case is 40mm x 45mm x 15mm, and consequently wears far more easily than the plethora of similar 42mm variants. Despite it’s unusually small dimensions (although it’s still fairly thick) it really does have fantastic wrist presence. It also seems that the case itself was not manufactured by Sinn, but was a component that was outsourced and then assembled for Sinn by Guinand. I think Heuer used the same case (amongst others) as well, and dating from the early 80’s it was the time when there were some Bund contracts causing a fair degree of excitement (and some fierce inter-brand competition).

I can’t say much more about it, as it’s not a model that has had much written about it. This one is pretty much mint save for a small nibble and a couple of light scratches to the crystal (undisclosed, sadly). I may at some point send it to Sinn for a replacement, and if/when I do I’ll think about having the German date wheel replaced as well. It also has the “military” 12-hour chapter ring, although others had a tachymeter scale instead. I have no idea how the 12-hour scale was used from a functional perspective, but I’ll draw the line there and keep it as it was originally supplied.

The bracelet is as mint as the case, a period NSA job that is about as comfortable as a bracelet can be. The clasp closes nice and firmly so there’s no worry in wearing it, but the watch did come with a Di Modell Pilot and a German bund strap; and the original Sinn box, which is a nice extra. All in all, I think it’s a great find, and although the photos were all a bit rushed I hope they demonstrate what a lovely watch the 157 is.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 50,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 19 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Merry Christmas!

I was actually just getting it ready to wear tomorrow, but I noticed that the leap year indicator has started to change, and of course the date is showing Christmas Eve. Under the circumstances, it would have been rude not to…

Have a wonderful Christmas, everybody, whether it’s a religious or secular holiday for you. I hope Santa brings you something nice!

End of year SOTC

Well, it’s that time again… coming up to Christmas, the festive spirit is mostly in the fridge right now and a quick look back over the year is appropriate.

I posted a an SOTC this time last year, at which time I had 13 watches with an emphasis on vintage Rolex (and there were some beauties!). This year I tried to get the numbers down a bit, and I succeeded for a while… I seem to have gone back up to 12 again, though, which is yet further evidence of my non-existent will-power. Anyway, as I did last year I still have vintage Rolex and Autavia GMTs; a nice old 5513; a fugly Tuna; a dressy and complicated JLC and GO; and a variety of other things to give me plenty of options. Too many options really, but I may as well just enjoy them all while I can and stop worrying about it.

I’ll take the opportunity to wish everyone well over the holidays too. It’ll be a quiet one for me as my other half is away with her family, but at least I can watch all the horror movies I want to watch for a couple of weeks :)