Lets play a game
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  1. #1
    Member stratct's Avatar
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    Lets play a game

    In what order do you think is the worst to best watch companies in the 50s? Mostly early to mid 50s. and we won't discuss the low end part of these companies. Mostly middle-high to high range.

    From lowest to highest IMO is

    Westclox

    Timex

    Helbros

    Gruen

    Elgin

    Bullova/Hamilton/Benrus (mostly the same quality IMO)

    Lord Elgin

    Wittnauer

    Rolex

    Omega

    UG

    Longines

    And then some.



    What do you guys think? Let's see what we have here. I'm interested in seeing what everyone here has to say. So please DON'T be shy!
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  2. #2
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    Re: Lets play a game

    I'd put them in this order

    Westclox
    Timex
    Helbros
    Bulova
    Benrus
    Elgin
    Lord Elgin
    Gruen
    Hamilton (while I agree that Benrus and Bulova are close in quality, Hamilton's quality is much higher- do some research into their calibers 982M and 770)
    Wittnauer
    Longines
    Omega
    Rolex
    I'm not familiar with UG
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  3. #3
    Member Time Exposure's Avatar
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    I see I'm not the only watch nerd to rank watch companies. I have a "system" whereby I rank makers by "tier" or level, from about the same period (maybe into early sixties). Tier 1 naturally are the ultra high-end makers, in which I include Rolex (at the bottom of the top tier). I know many will disagree with that call, but it has been discussed elsewhere.

    Tier 2 includes (in alphabetical order since their rank seems to change with my mood): LeCoultre, Longines, Omega, Universal, and Zenith.

    Tier 3 includes names like Hamilton, Movado, Gruen, Bulova, Wittnauer, Elgin/Lord Elgin,Benrus, Helbros, Tudor, Zodiac, Eterna...Mostly fine watches that are in house or ebauche users.

    Tier 4 has fully jeweled movements from "lesser-name" brands like Alpha or Roamer or Certina. Tier 5 would be Timex, Westclox, etc.

    The flaw in my tier system comes down to specific watches. Omega overall in tier 2 but a cal. 564 Constellation in Tier 1 above Rolex and IWC but below Audemars Piguet. Same with a Hamilton cal. 770 like the one in my 18k Gordon model from 1956, but some of those are found in 10kgf cases. I'd rather have an Eterna over a Helbros in tier 3. And so on...

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  5. #4
    Member Time Exposure's Avatar
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    ...and where does Girard Perregaux fall? Back in the early 50's they were a lower priced option competing against Omega and Longines. For some reason, GP seems to be held in high regard, but I would say they're about the same quality as Movado/Eterna of the same period?

  6. #5
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Lets play a game

    If I could find it, I would post a copy of the Consumer Reports watch ranking from this era, which gives a very good(and comprehensive) treatment to this subject.

    I'd agree with Derek above that Hamilton would properly rank highly on any list, especially with regard to their best quality movements.
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  7. #6
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: Lets play a game

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben_hutcherson View Post
    If I could find it, I would post a copy of the Consumer Reports watch ranking from this era, which gives a very good(and comprehensive) treatment to this subject.
    There you go: Page 1: 1949 Consumer Reports article on watches
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  8. #7
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Lets play a game

    Quote Originally Posted by stratct View Post
    In what order do you think is the worst to best watch companies in the 50s? Mostly early to mid 50s. and we won't discuss the low end part of these companies. Mostly middle-high to high range.

    From lowest to highest IMO is

    Westclox

    Timex

    Helbros

    Gruen

    Elgin

    Bullova/Hamilton/Benrus (mostly the same quality IMO)

    Lord Elgin

    Wittnauer

    Rolex

    Omega

    UG

    Longines

    And then some.



    What do you guys think? Let's see what we have here. I'm interested in seeing what everyone here has to say. So please DON'T be shy!
    Wow, this is difficult for two reasons. First, even for a general era, positions vary as companies evolve. Second, models of specific companies can vary greatly. Narrowly focused companies are easier to place than broad range companies such as Tissot (which is missing from the list but would be close to Omega IMHO).

    Trying to focus on 1955, bear in mind this is not the result of detailed analysis but rather general impressions based on my anecdotal experiences.

    Westclox <= still producing volumes of value driven low end movements. Economically these folks knew their niche and have been one of the most successful of this (and many other) era. (They are now Timex.)

    Timex <= same company as Westclox... I think this was about the time of the branding switch to Timex.

    Helbros <= Swiss ebauches in good examples of the general Swiss industry of this era. (Often bargains today.)

    Gruen <= my knowledge of Gruen/Columbus is mostly from the pocket watch era. My impression of this era is they are very similar to Helbros.

    Elgin <= Past it's prime. Soon they will become a retailer of Swiss ebauches like Helbros and Gruen to capitalize on their ability to encase and wholesale to retailers. Their inability to economically build automatics was one factor in this and in 1955, this was very important.

    Bulova/Hamilton/Benrus (mostly the same quality IMO) <= In 1955 they are very distinct companies with quite different profiles. Benrus is like the above ebauche-based companies. Hamilton was still producing some of the best watches made (and maybe ever made!). Bulova was innovative like Hamilton and was about to hit a home run with the Accutron but their Swiss movements of this era were quite decent.

    Lord Elgin <= Elgin's last gasp in the world of fine watches. Some of these are a good as Hamiltons.

    Wittnauer <= An Benrus look alike living off it's association with Longines.

    Rolex <= I don't know much about these 1955 era watches. In this era my impression is the casing was the best available and the movements were well made but not the gods subsequent PR has made them out to be.

    Omega <= In this era their watches were almost as good as Longines, which is saying quite a lot.

    UG <= Not big enough to make a major market impact but their watches were well built, like Eternia.

    Longines <= In this era it was the best Swiss company that did have market impact. If today you can make a calibre that is as good as Longines was doing 60 years ago, you are doing quite well.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it and will never change it unless I do. I just hope this thread doesn't turn into Brand Wars. The ones I see in Public are often kids working off information they got on YouTube LOL
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    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  9. #8
    Member stratct's Avatar
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    This I s a good thread I think. Thanks Eeeb!
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  10. #9
    Member stratct's Avatar
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    So you guys think Benrus is a good co.? Where would you place them in today's watch co.s?
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  11. #10
    Member Time Exposure's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stratct View Post
    So you guys think Benrus is a good co.? Where would you place them in today's watch co.s?
    With today's Bulova and Hamilton, only lower. I don't get the impression that Benrus was something to look out for, unless you're chasing a Sky Chief. Then you have the advantage of having a Valjoux 72 measuring the time.

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