Okay, so it’s been a while since I did one of these long SOTC posts. Sometime back in September 2010, if I recall correctly;
I've done a SOTC post every 1100 posts, so here it is. I’ll have to try not repeating myself with this one, but there may be some info here that mirrors what I said three years ago.
My collection has changed little since then, but I have come to realise what type of collector I am, what watches I tend to favour, and what watches I would still like to get. The last few years have seen me wearing a handful of pieces from my collection on a regular basis.
In saying that, while I have a few watches that rarely get worn, when I do wear them, I’m reminded of why they appealed to me in the first place.
And so, if you have nothing better to do for the next little while, here we go. Oh, and if you’re a 'too-long,-didn’t-read' kind of person, you’d better stop reading now.
For the four of you still here, here goes nothing;
1) Wyler Incaflex hand-wound, circa 1968
This was my Father’s watch. Pictured below with his Gillette G3 ‘FatBoy’ safety razor- which dates back to around September 1961- and specs. I’ve been using the razor for decades. As for the glasses, when I wrote about them three years ago, I stated that I didn’t need them. Nowadays, if I have to thread a needle (‘cos every man should know how to darn a pair of socks), I need to wear his glasses.
He bought the watch back in the late 1960s from a local jewellery store whose name is printed on the dial. I have memories of staying up late as a child and watching him wind this watch while a cup of coffee sat steaming on the laminate kitchen table. This was usually at around 10:30pm at night. He would then head off to catch the 10:55 bus to Brunswick to work the 11:30pm to 8:00am shift as a machinist at Peerless Textile Mills.
He used to come and pick me up from school every day at 3:30pm. It was only a ten-minute walk to school, but there were some treacherous roads to cross. This was back in the mid-Seventies, a time before councils filled the streets with speed bumps, pedestrian crossings, and 40kph speed limits.
In 1978, my Mother decided that she wanted a new house. We tore down our old weatherboard dwelling and built a new house on the same block. My Dad took a second job to pay for it. So now, he would come home briefly after working the night-shift, freshen up, and then head to a nearby Electrical Contracting firm to work as a cleaner between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00pm. He averaged about five hours sleep a day by then, between the hours of 5:00pm and 10:00pm. He did this for about three or four years before he was injured at work. Nothing major, it was a hernia, sustained from lifting a heavy sheet of steel. He went to hospital to have it operated on and, while under anaesthetic, he suffered a stroke. He never returned to work after that. He was 55.
A few years later, he developed the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease which grew worse as he got older. When he was 74, he went into a nursing home near the house. They said he was a little too young to be admitted, but my Mother, who had worked as a cook in their kitchen back in the mid-Seventies, pulled a few strings, called in a few favours, appealed to their sense of right, and managed to secure a place for him there. He had spent over three years being shuffled between two high-level care facilities before the doctors decided that he would be able to go into the nursing home.
The transition would last only a day. My Mother arranged for John The Barber (as I’d always known him) to come over to the house to give Dad a haircut before he went to the nursing home. My wife and I sat there listening to John tell us about how The Beatles almost killed off his career. Circa 1965, young men didn't want haircuts. They wanted mop-tops just like John, Paul, George and Ringo.
My Mother prepared lunch as the staccato ‘snip-snip’ of John’s scissors sent out an unintelligible Morse code. The scissors in his hand were like some kind of metallic hummingbird, hovering over my Dad’s head. John constantly kept these scissors in motion, opening and closing the blades with rhythmic speed, something that I remember from when he used to cut my hair when I was a kid.
My wife commented on how bittersweet this occasion was; “He spent decades at this address and tonight he’ll be sleeping at the nursing home. It’s too short a length of time to say goodbye to the house and what he’s known.”
Okay, I’d better stop there.
The Wyler measures about 33mm in diameter and I find it a tad small for even my 6.5 inch wrist. My Dad was of medium build and his wrists, thinking about it now, based on how many wrists I saw during twelve years of watch selling, measured at least 7 inches, if not a little more.
So, this watch would have looked even smaller on his wrist than it does on mine.
However, his generation didn’t bother itself with stuff like ‘Does my watch strap match my belt?’, ‘What watch will have the best resale value?’, or ‘Does this watch look too big/small on my wrist?’
Let’s face it, gang. If you are of a certain age, chances are that your Dad was the type of guy who just knuckled down and got $#!t done, without worrying about trans fats, LinkedIn profiles, or credit card reward points. In all likelihood, he probably owned one wristwatch, which he wore to work through the week, church on Sundays, and barbeques later in the day.
As I said, I very, very, very rarely wear this watch, but you and I both know it ain’t going anywhere.
And, whenever I do something decent, I realise that he left me more than a razor, spectacles and a wristwatch.
INT: LOUNGE ROOM –NIGHT
CLOSE-UP of a TV screen as a news report shows a colony of penguins emerge from the surf onto a beach.
Where do you go to catch those?
TEERITZ stifles a smirk. He knows where this question is headed.
You can’t catch them. They’re
protected By law. Why do you ask?
Look at all the meat on them.
I bet they’d taste fantastic.
I didn’t want to end that section on a downer.
2) Hamilton Khaki Officer’s Mechanical, 2010/2011
During my years in the watch game (2001-2012), I saw watch sizes get larger and larger. I credit (or blame) Breitling for pushing case sizing beyond 42mm back around 2003.
At first, I rebelled against them, and did so for a long time. And then I mellowed a little. Nowadays, I just accept the fact that brands will continue to produce large watches. This is good for those of you with larger builds and wrists.
Although, I still think that dress watches should not go beyond 40-42mm at the most. However, if there’s one style of watch that can get away with being large, it’s the pilot’s or military wristwatch.
So, back in 2010 or 2011, I got a hankering for a big watch. Despite the fact that I knew it would look absolutely ridiculous on my wrist. I had tried on the 44mm Oris Swiss Hunter and it was a nice watch, to be sure, but the price tag put it at $1800 AUD and, despite my staff discount, it would still be more than I was wanting to spend.
So I cast my net out wider and landed on Hamilton. This brand made perfect sense to me, since it had produced military watches in the past. Looking at the Khaki range, I was drawn to the hand-wound Officer’s Mechanical, which housed the venerable Unitas 6497 calibre. I found a new one on eBay for around $560.
Here it is, picture taken from my review of the watch;
As you can see, it positively slaughters my wrist, but that’s okay. This is the watch that makes me look like an action figure (batteries sold separately!) and, while I don’t wear it often, whenever I do, it makes me smile, because of the sheer ridiculousness of its size on me.
Mind you, I used to try on the Omega Railmaster XXL when I worked in watches. That watch was 49mm in diameter, but it had a wonderfully flamboyant aesthetic to it. I could almost get away with wearing it.
However, the award for the most humongous watch I ever wore must surely go to the Panerai Egiziano, which clocks in at a staggering 60mm in diameter. A customer came into the store one day wearing this watch. We got to talking about how massive it was and he himself admitted that it looked over-the-top.
However, he said that when he first saw it, he knew he’d never have the money or the opportunity to buy one again, so he snapped it up.
I asked if I could try it on and he happily obliged me.
Now, this picture here is not of me wearing this watch, but it’s exactly how my wrist looks and exactly how this watch looked on my wrist;
(can't recall where I found this image. If it's yours, let me know and I'll take it down. Or give you proper attribution for it.)
I must have laughed non-stop for about three or four minutes. My eyes were misty and my cheek muscles ached, oh God. The strap on this watch was wider than my belt!
I took it off and handed it back to him, smiling broadly as I said ‘thanks’. He put it back on his wrist. He was about 6’2’’ and broad-shouldered. The watch looked biggish on his wrist, but not crazy-biggish. He could actually carry it off. And, of course, it helped that he didn’t take this watch too seriously. Attitude is half the battle, in my opinion.
Anyway, back to the Hamilton Khaki of mine. I wear it sparingly. It is probably a better watch for winter where I can wear it under a cuff rather than on display during summer when I’d wear short sleeves. It goes very well with a V or turtle-neck pullover and a pair of khakis, to give you a wartime spy/saboteur kind of look, like in my review.
The Unitas movement winds especially smooth. For those of you who may be unaware, the Unitas 6497/6498 calibres were first introduced sometime in the 1950s as pocket watch movements (hence the sub-seconds at 6 or 9 on the dial), and when Panerai burst back onto the watch scene in the early 1990s, many of their models used this movement. It is rock-solid.
The case is nicely done in a matte finish and the dial is easily legible. Perhaps my only gripe is that there’s no A/R coating on the crystal. That would have made a great difference to the overall look of this piece.
Still, it’s a standout watch, with a nice historic link to previous models of the Hamilton brand.
3) Tissot Visodate Heritage 1957, 2011
This watch just happened to come along at the right time. By early 2010, the TV series Mad Men had firmly entrenched itself in the pop culture zeitgeist and suddenly, guys were wearing tie-bars and drinking Old Fashioneds.
A customer came in with a page out of a magazine, featuring a picture of this watch. I knew nothing about this Visodate. The Tissot Sales Rep hadn’t mentioned it to me, so I was a little bit peeved. I hate it when a customer knows about a new release before I do.
Anyway, I ordered two of them. One for the customer and one for the store. Six weeks later, they arrived and I was blown away by the beauty of this watch, considering its price-point.
Seven hundred and fifty Aussie dollars would get you this beautiful modern take on a mid-Century design, marred only by the modern concession of a day/date window.
I reviewed this watch here on WUS and am constantly amazed by the number of page views it’s clocked up in the five years since I wrote it;
However, I think it has more to do with the watch itself rather than my review. Tissot hit one out of the park with this one. It’s a near-perfect watch. I say near-perfect because, in recent years, I’ve looked at it and wished that it was maybe one or two mil smaller in diameter.
However, at 40mm, it’s hardly a deal-breaker when the watch has so much going for it for so little money.
4) Tudor Prince Oyster, circa 1963
My wife got me this watch from an OpShop (thrift store) for $50.oo. It was in shocking condition. Scratched crystal, worn crown pendant, and much of the case was covered in dirty brown plaster (man, I HOPE it was plaster! Previous owner could have been a big Papillon or Pulp Fiction fan.).
Two trips to the watchmaker, and $350 bucks later, it turned out like this;
I don’t wear it much, because my vintage Omegas jockey for position on my wrist, but this is such a clean example (now) and whenever I do wear it, it surprises me just how nice it is.
5) Omega Seamaster Automatic, Cal 562, circa 1962
I bought this one around 2002 and I just don’t see them in such pristine condition anymore. This watch positively screams ‘Don Draper’ to me.
Worn with a suit, it makes me look pretty damn sharp, I must say. Till I open my mouth and start talking.
The Calibre 562 under the bonnet purrs along like all get-out. Given its wonderful condition, this one’s a keeper.
6) Omega Seamaster hand-wound, Cal 420, circa 1955
Looks like a bomb hit it, don’t it? Regardless, this one will one day get the spa treatment so that I can wear it. I’m tempted to give the dial the Ronnie Shroff treatment which involves a quick soak in distilled water with a dash of lemon juice, but I don’t know if I have the stones to attempt it. Could stuff it up entirely.
Forum member Desmond (mondodec) provides a link to this procedure on his great blog;
Omega Constellation Collectors: Dial Restoration - Cleaning Degraded Dial Lacquer
I may just give it a shot.
7) Omega Seamaster Chronometer, Cal 564, circa 1969
Vintage Omega Constellation Chronometers can be found relatively easily, but I had not seen very many COSC-rated vintage Seamasters during my travels. So when this one showed up on eBay, I snapped it up.
Time-wise, I don’t recall exactly, but it’s less than five seconds out per day. The dial has a slight blemish on it and some very mild pitting. I was tempted to get it tended to, but my watchmaker said to me; “It’s taken forty years for it to get like that, so it’ll take another forty years to get worse. I wouldn’t worry about it, if I were you.”
8) Sinn 103 St Sa Chronograph, 2009
There are three watches in my collection that were grail pieces for me. This Sinn was one of them.
I had wanted one for over five years (that’s how I know that it’s a grail watch) and had considered a Lemania 5100-powered 156, but these had just been recently discontinued and became highly sought-after. So, looking through Sinn’s catalogue, I landed on this one. There’s a lot about this watch that offers great value for money when compared to something similar from other brands. Here are the stats on this great watch; -200m water-resistance-A/R coated sapphire crystal-Screw-down chrono pushers and screw-down crown-Softly ratcheted bi-directional countdown bezelThe IWC Pilot’s Chrono costs twice as much as one of these and it has 60m w/r. Sure, the movement (a Valjoux 7750, same as the Sinn) is COSC-rated, but is that really worth the price? Besides, when you order from Sinn, you can have the COSC spec movement fitted for an extra 100 Euro if you want that level of accuracy.I already had a couple of chronos, but this Sinn 103 just exuded such a 1970s German anti-terrorist vibe for me. All that was missing was a MP5.
"Ritts lit the last Gitanes in the pack and tossed the lighter onto the mattress. God, how he had grown to hate these cigarettes! Sergei put down the binoculars and rubbed his eyes. Reinemann was late. Perhaps Hoffman's team had gotten to him. Ritts swore under his breath, a hiss of smoke from the Gitanes expelled through gritted teeth. He picked up the binoculars. They felt warm. Sergei had been clutching them for almost an hour. He raised them and looked through the eyepieces in time to see Reinemann approach the checkpoint. Ritts felt his stomach muscles tighten. If all went well, they'd have Reinemann in Sergei's battered Citroen and heading for the safe-house within the next ten minutes. If the gearbox held out long enough."
Sorry, Haven't done any creative writing for a couple of years. Must get back into it soon.
But back to the Sinn 103. When switched over to a leather strap, it looks more like a 1950s Type XX chrono that was standard issue to French Air Force pilots back then.
For quite some time, I was tempted by a Heuer or Sinn Bundeswehr chrono, but that hankering has faded somewhat in the years since I got this 103. This is perhaps not the kind of watch that one thinks of when they start mentioning their grail pieces, but for me it’s a keeper.
9) Omega Speedmaster Professional, Cal 861, 2007
The watch store that I worked at had a particularly good financial year. The owner said; ‘Okay, everybody choose a watch to the value of such-and-such.’
Since I was Senior Sales Consultant, my spend was a little more than everyone else’s. So, I took a day or two to think about it.
I was about to ask for a TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph before I paused and asked myself; ‘What watch do you keep saying you’re gonna buy but never get around to actually buying?’
Answer? The Moonwatch. Simple as that. May as well go for the brass ring, huh?
I had to throw in some money of my own, and I admit that I didn’t wear it much for the first month that I had it. I would look at it every few days and think ‘meh’.
One morning, however, I picked it up off the dresser and was about to put it on my wrist when the dawn sunlight filtering in through the venetians hit the watch just so...and this watch suddenly made a whole lot of sense to me.
Yes, yes, yes, there’s the whole NASA/Moon landing association that is so strongly tied to this watch.
However, for me, the Speedy is a perfect example of 1960s chronograph design. I clipped the watch to my wrist as images flashed across the screen of my subconscious (that description too flowery?) and I saw cool ‘60s actors like Rod Taylor, Paul Newman and a younger Michael Caine taking drags from unfiltered cigarettes.
I had visions of gas pipelines out in the Sahara and oil platforms in the North Sea, and E-Type Jaguars and Jensen Interceptors, with Ann-Margret, Monica Vitti and Jane Fonda sitting in the passenger seats. No other watch evokes those feelings in me. Well, actually, there’s one other. More about that one later.
It is nifty to know that there are a few watches out there that have remained virtually unchanged since their inception.
One of the Omega bigwigs from Switzerland visited my store one day and I asked him if they had any plans to change the Speedy at all.
He looked at me like I’d just escaped from some mental institution and, with a shake of his head and an expression on his face that looked like he felt very sorry for me, he said; ‘Omega will nevvah chenge the Spidmaster.’
I’ll admit there have been a few times in the past when I’ve thought about selling this watch for financial reasons. My wife has said to me; ‘Don’t sell it. You’d be mad, and you’ll regret it.’
She’s absolutely right. I’m wearing it as I write this entry. It is indeed a keeper. I’m thinking of putting it on a leather strap to give it a more old-school look. Either way, this one’s staying put.
Two stories about this legendary watch;
- I’ve told this one before. An elderly gentleman came into my store one day with his wife. He wanted to get his Speedmaster Professional serviced. He handed me the watch. ‘Oh, this one’s nice. How long have you had it?’, I asked.
“I bought this watch in 1969. Got the glass replaced a few times, had it serviced every few years when it needed it. It’s the best watch I’ve ever had’, he replied, with a faraway look in his eyes, while his wife looked up at him with a smile on her face.
I looked at him with admiration as I ran a fingernail along the edges of the case and found that they had been worn down by a lifetime of wear and use.
And that, thrillseekers, is how to own a wristwatch.
- One day, a guy in his early thirties brought his Speedmaster Professional in for servicing. This watch looked like somebody had clamped it around a hand grenade and pulled the pin. Scratches all over the case, bracelet and crystal, and one of the chrono pushers was missing.
The fellow went on to tell me that he was a builder and he wore the watch to work every day.
Not only that, but he rode to work and back on a bicycle, from Fitzroy to Frankston. For those of you unfamiliar with my town, that’s a distance of about sixty kilometres. Each way.
He told me that the watch is meant to be worn, after all. They don’t breed ‘em like that much anymore.
10) Omega AquaTerra Co-Axial, Cal 2500C, 2006
I was thinking of going for a pre-owned Rolex DateJust. Always liked them. To me, they represent the quintessential ‘urban guy’s wristwatch’.
No unnecessary functions. Just time and date. One hundred metres of water resistance, which is enough for a mere mortal like me. Unassuming and dependable Oyster bracelet. In short, a classic design, untouched for decades.
Omega then released its new AquaTerra range of watches and my plans took a sharp detour.
I opted for the glossy, crude-oil-black dialled model in the classic 36.2mm diameter to suit my wrist. This is a great watch. Flies under the radar, sits nicely on the wrist. My only gripe would be the clasp. It’s the older design that Omega used a lot back in the ‘90s. Aside from that, this watch is a beauty.
11) TAG Heuer Formula 1, Quartz, 2009
This was intended to be used as a beater for stuff like going to the gym, bike rides, lawn mowing, and other handyman stuff, but I have found over the years that I don’t particularly want to damage it. I like the look of this watch, even though its design is beginning to date a little. I don’t wear it often because I have two Seiko watches that act as beaters, but this is a good watch for travel, and I think every collection can benefit from one quartz watch. Being quartz, it’s accurate, and it has 200m water-resistance, which was plenty for the pool at a resort in Fiji about five years ago.
Say what you will about TAG Heuer. I don’t like every watch that they make, but I think it’s a great brand. And I have a soft-spot for TAG because I bought one back in 1987 and it served me well for twelve years. It’s the gateway brand that creates in ordinary grown men an appreciation for a good Swiss-made watch. Some folks stick with TAG, some move on to other brands. But a lot of guys I dealt with would come in to purchase another watch, such as an Omega or Breitling, and they would tell me that they still had their TAG Aquaracer or Link model that they still wore from time to time.
12) Omega Seamaster 300 (WatchCo build) Cal 552 from 1967, purchased 2009
This was the second grail. I spent about six years looking at heavily used (and abused) originals and Vietnam-era fakes before deciding to go the WatchCo route.
Purists hate these, but then, I didn’t buy it to make them happy.
Are these frankenwatches? Dr. Frankenstein’s monster (in Mary Shelley’s book) was a grotesque with visible scarring. I think whoever coined the term ‘frankenwatch’ has never read the book, but rather based this phrase on the Frankenstein films, where you can see stitches around the monster’s neck (along with the bolts) and a misshapen skull. So I don’t think the term is apt when talking of WatchCo builds.
Are these watches New-Old-Stock? Nope. They have not been sitting in a store-room somewhere in untouched, original condition. They have been put together using spare parts.
Which is why I refer to them as a WatchCo build.
And lastly, is any of this important to me? I couldn’t give a rat’s.
I wanted something that was clean. Yes, I could have gone with a busted-up pre-owned model off eBay and then gotten it tidied up by Omega, but that would have been a very pricey exercise at the time.
I’m very happy with this watch, despite the fact that Swatch Group will probably not service this piece for me.
The beauty of this watch is that it cannot be mistaken for a Rolex Submariner. In almost every way, it looks different. I wear it mostly on the old-style Omega mesh bracelet. It makes for a very comfortable fit, and it also gives the watch a cool ‘Burt-Reynolds-in-Deliverance’ kind of vibe. Despite the fact that he didn’t wear a watch in that film. He wore a wrist compass instead.
I have to say that I’m a little cautious with this watch these days. One hard knock at the wrong angle and that bezel insert will crack. And since Omega are tightening their spare parts availability, finding a replacement insert will be tricky, if not impossible. So I’ll just have to be careful.
13) Tudor Prince OysterDate, circa 1973-1980
This watch has become a saga. I got it off eBay, knowing it had been redialled. I had plans to put a blue linen dial on it, so the fact that the dial was not original didn’t really bother me.
I gave it to a pre-owned watch dealer that I know and then I waited a month. I’m sick of telling this story, so I think I’ll switch to point-form;
* Dealer calls me back with a quote for $350 to do the dial swap. I assume he’s gonna service the movement for this kind of price. I give him the go-ahead.
* Dealer calls back two weeks later. The rotor post has snapped. He’ll have to get a new ETA rotor for the movement. Sure, go ahead, I tell him, but be sure to give me back the old Tudor rotor once it’s done. If I ever sell the watch, I want to include it.
* Dealer calls me back three weeks later. Watch is ready.
* I go to pick it up. Blue linen dial looks good.
* Dealer then tells me that there was a slight problem with fitting the blue dial to the watch. His watchmaker had to remove the dial feet and re-position them a couple of millimetres so that the dial would appear straight.
* Oh. Okay, I tell him.
* Dealer then goes on to show me that the edge of the date disc is now slightly visible.
* I look closely at the outer edge of the date and, sure enough, I can see a slight gap, as well as the crown stem through the date window.
* I’m now less thrilled with this watch.
* But wait, there’s more!!! Dealer doesn’t return the original Tudor rotor to me. He says his watchmaker must still have it on his bench someplace. Says he’ll chase it up.
* I get the watch home, set it to the second, fully wind it, and then put it down.
* Twenty-four hours later, I check the watch against timeticker.com. The watch has lost approx 45 seconds in 24 hours. Considering what I paid for the ‘repair’, you’d think he could have serviced it.
* Four years later, I still haven’t got that Tudor rotor back.
Here's that annoying gap in the date window. Bugs me no end;
I spent the past year keeping an eye on eBay for a Tudor-signed rotor for the ETA Calibre 2784. Finally got one a few months ago.
Took it to another watchmaker (whom I trust) to get it fitted. Once the case-back is screwed on, though, you can hear a light scraping sound and the rotor doesn’t spin freely.
So basically, I have absolutely HAD IT with this watch!!! It’s gonna go on eBay soon, where I will outline all of its faults and shortcomings in the hope that somebody who has access to parts may have better luck with it.
Needless to say, I won’t be recouping my expenses on this one. Chalk it up to experience.
14) Camy Club-Star, mid-Seventies(?)
I got a PM from a forum member who wanted to know if I was interested in this watch. He said he’d be happy to send it to me, since he knew that I like vintage pieces. It was an extraordinary gesture on his part. Thanks again, JB!
This is a neat little watch. Thirty-five mil in diameter, smooth 17 Jewel hand-wound movement, nice clean silver dial, it’s from the early to mid 1970s, although it could almost pass for something from the mid-Sixties.
I’ve said this a few times in the past; they don’t all have to be quarterbacks, folks. A watch collection can have obscure and inexpensive brands nestled next to the heavy hitters.
15) Lanco Hand-wound, circa 1962
I got it stuck in my head that I had to get a vintage watch larger than the majority of 34-36mm pieces that I had in my collection. If I could get something with a sub-seconds dial on it, even better.
This watch looked like something a 1950s Pre-Castro Cuban tobacco plantation owner would wear. Cool!
The case measures 38mm in diameter and it sits quite flat on the wrist. The dial is beautifully decorated with a nice engine-turned pattern. I hunted around for some information on this watch and a few members on the vintage forum stated that this model dates back to the early 1960s, despite the fact that it looks older. Annoyingly, it stopped working a few months ago, but this is nothing that any watchmaker couldn’t fix. I’ll get around to it someday.
16) Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises Missions Paul-Emile Victor, 2011
Phew! I thought I was gonna run out of internet before I finished writing the name of this watch.
As I approached ten years with the watch store, I figured I should celebrate the occasion by getting myself a watch. Nothing too extravagant, just a little memento to mark the milestone.
This Longines was part of their Heritage range and I have to hand it to the brand. They make some very nice re-editions. This one is based on an expedition watch that they made back in the late 1940s to early 1950s and it has a nice, clean silver dial.
Here’s what the original looks like, photoshopped to within an inch of its life;
pic courtesy of World Watch Review |
This re-edition is pretty faithful to the original, although it has the usual modern updates such as a larger diameter (38mm) and a date window.
However, I love the date window on this piece (shameless plug- picture taken from my review);
I like the picture-frame edge that Longines has given this. Certainly nicer than the plain rectangle cut-out on the current AquaTerra range.
There. I said it.
17) Omega Railmaster Co-Axial 36.2mm, 2012
Back in 2008, Swatch Group said we could buy any watch we wanted from them, for a staggering 70% off the retail price.
My credit cards were on life-support back then. No way could I even think about buying a watch, despite the fact that I could have picked this watch up for around $1,100.oo.
I sold this particular watch to a regular customer of mine. This was the last 36mm Railmaster that my store ever got before the model was discontinued. He decided to reluctantly sell it a few years later and gave me first dibs on it.
I’ve always liked the Railmaster, but felt that it might be too similar to my AquaTerra and this is why I’ve never given it any serious thought.
I had even considered going for a vintage Rolex Explorer 1016, but their pricing has been astronomical in the last decade.
Still, when the offer of this watch was made, I gave it some thought and decided to pounce on it. One of the best wristwatch decisions I ever made.
The original model from 1957 measured 38mm. So, the modern 39.2mm model is closer in size to the watch it’s based on, but I just knew that the 36.2mm model would suit me better. Regardless, I think this watch has cured me of the desire for an Explorer 1016. No mean feat.
18) Trident Discovery, 2011
I wanted a vintage Rolex Submariner for a long, long, long time. When I saw this watch on eBay, I should have just kept walking.
Instead, I bought it.
It is a cobbled together piece of junk.
The crystal is super-domed and sticks up too high, the crown stem feels very flimsy when you set the time, the lume is non-existent. It has a bare-bones ETA movement under the bonnet and that is perhaps the only reason why I haven’t driven over this thing.
Anyway, I put a Waterborne ZULU strap on it, covered it in cling-wrap, and it now resides in a small zip-up pouch in the glove-box of my car, along with some Band Aids, paracetamol tablets, a spare tea-bag (Earl Grey), and a bunch of other handy little accessories that come in useful from time to time.
If I ever leave the house in such a hurry that I forget to put a watch on (it’s only happened once), this watch will act as a crappy back-up piece until I get home.
The lesson? Never settle. Don’t buy garbage when what you really want is quality.
The Heirlooms (Or Rather, The First Heirlooms)
- 19) Oris Modern Classic, 2006
For some reason, I wanted something dressy in two-tone. This 37mm watch fit the bill. It’s a nice mixture of stainless steel and rose-gold plating.
I removed the two-tone bracelet and put a strap on it.
The only problem was that I had gotten so smitten with my vintage pieces that I rarely wore this Oris.
My daughter saw it one day and said it was a nice watch. So, I’ll give it to her in a couple of years when she’s older.
She currently wears a 32mm hand-wound Seiko on a shortened NATO strap. Suits her purposes at the moment.
How y’all doing, folks? Not long to go, we’re nearly there.
20) Oris Miles Tonneau, 2004
This watch filled the square/rectangular watch hole in my collection, even though it’s tonneau-shaped. I got quite a bit of wear out of this one despite its size.
One day, my father-in-law saw it on my wrist and said; ‘That’s a nice watch.’
I fished out the box and warranty card the next day and presented it to him.
I figured he’d get a little more wear out of it than I would. Besides, it’s not like I had a shortage of watches to choose from.
He wore it every day until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about a year later. He became bed-ridden not long after that and the watch would continually stop on his wrist because he wasn’t moving around so much.
He told me that he wanted his grandson to have it after he’d gone.
So, I’ve put it aside for my son to wear when he gets older.
It is a sharp-looking watch, and Oris’ attention to detail is to be admired. Beautiful Art Nouveau-inspired numerals and long leaf-shaped hands against a nice black, engine-turned dial. Excellent legibility, too.
Oris is definitely one of the better of the low to mid-tier Swiss brands on the market. I find their dive watches a little too modern looking for my tastes, but their build quality is very good indeed.
So yeah, my son will get this watch when he’s a little older.
But who am I kidding? He’s gonna score my entire collection one day.
21) Seiko Diver SKX031, 2002
In my impatience to get a Submariner, I once again settled and went for a dive watch which had similar design cues to the Rolex classic.
Okay, there aren’t many similarities, but the large hour marker dots do owe their look to the Sub, in my view. This is a rock-solid watch.
My watchmaker said; ‘These things are tough. The timekeeping’s not that great, but these will run non-stop for twenty years before they pack it in.’
This is the watch that I wear to the gym, or whenever handyman duty calls. Although, I cringe every time it gets bashed against something. Not crazy about the design of the hands, but they are so quintessentially Seiko.
I love this brand, by the way. They make some fantastic and inexpensive watches that are a great introduction to the world of mechanical wristwatches.
Whenever, I’d get some watch snob saying stuff like ‘I only buy watches with in-house movements’, I’d usually ask them; ‘Have you considered Seiko? They make in-house movements.’
The looks on their faces were always priceless.
22) Seiko 7002, circa 1993
This watch cost me $40 bucks off eBay. It had a black dial, but I had plans for this one.
I bought a Tudoresque set of after-market snowflake hands and two dials. One blue and one orange.
Then I swapped the chapter rings around. A trip to the watchmaker and, $120 dollars later, this was the result;
I added a NATO-style strap from a nearby Fossil boutique, but it made the watch look a little too Tommy-Hilfiger for my liking, so it was back to eBay to get a genuine Seiko jubilee-style bracelet and ta-dah!
Again, this is worn for rough duty, and again, I hate it when it gets dinged. Yep, I got a lotta time for the Seiko brand.
The Bond Trio
If you haven’t already guessed, I am a Bond fan. Big time. So at some point, I was going to end up with a Bond watch or two.
23) Omega Seamaster Professional 300m, Cal 1120, 1999
As much as I still wanted a vintage Rolex Submariner, their pricing was still out of my reach.
After seeing Pierce Brosnan’s Bond debut in Goldeneye (Dir: Martin Campbell, 1995), I took a closer look at the Seamaster Professional.
While I wasn’t thrilled with the design of the hands, this was not a deal breaker because I loved everything else about the watch. The white-dot hour markers reminded me of the Submariners before Rolex opted for the white gold ring surrounds.
The deep navy blue dial was a pleasant change from the usual black dials found on virtually every other dive watch of the time. It took me a few years, but I snapped one up by the time of Brosnan’s third outing as Bond in The World Is Not Enough.
Sadly, with each successive Bond film of his, I found myself preferring the film before it. Looking back now, his first one was his best, and parts of his second one were pretty good, although overall, it’s not a great Bond film. The less said about Die Another Day, the better.
I wore this watch solidly for the first six years that I had it, before alternating it with other watches in my growing collection. It ran like a champion. Still does. Last time I checked, about a year ago, it ran -4 seconds per day. And I’ve never had it serviced.
I wore it about a month ago and was reminded just how nice a watch it is. Low profile compared to Omega’s current in-house powered line-up. The bracelet is not to everyone’s taste, but it suits this watch perfectly.
I wore it when my son was born (Christmas Day, 2000, 10:56am, not 10:55 as the attending nurse wrote down in the hospital records) and I wore it when my daughter was born two years later.
This is a true family heirloom if ever there was one.
Gotta get it serviced soon.
24) Omega Planet Ocean 42mm, Cal 2500C, 2006
Omega ran a three-month incentive program. Whoever in our company sold the most Omega watches during that period would score a Planet Ocean wristwatch.
I didn’t think I was in the running, to be honest. I knew of one staff member in another store interstate who had a knack for selling the most watches of a brand whenever that brand ran an incentive program.
He also had a knack for putting the incentive prizes on eBay shortly after winning them.
As it turned out, I wound up selling more Omegas than this other staff member, although he sold a higher dollar value.
I was quite surprised when I was told that I had won. Omega was and still is my favourite brand, so it was always a pleasure to sell one of their watches.
My wife suggested I go for the orange bezel/orange numerals model, but I have always thought that that watch has two different shades of orange on it. And, being a little more traditional in my tastes, I felt that the black bezelled model 2201.50.00 would be the future classic. So that’s the one I chose.
No regrets. It’s been a great watch. I think Omega used just the right amount of original Seamaster 300 DNA when they made this watch. It gives a nice nod to the past, but looks confidently to the future.
And you can imagine the thrill I got when I heard that Daniel Craig would wear the same model in his second Bond flick, Quantum of Solace. For the first time in my life, Bond copied me!
And now, we arrive at the third watch in my Bond triple-pack. My first true Grail watch. The watch that I have wanted for four decades, after seeing Roger Moore as Bond use the buzz-saw bezel of his watch to cut through rope in 1973’s Live And Let Die;
picture courtesy of Danjac/EON Productions.
25) Rolex Submariner 5513, circa 1982
I’ve already written a virtual thesis on my acquisition of this watch over on my blog, so I’ll try to keep it short here.
Since the summer of 1974 (or ’75, can’t recall exactly), I’ve wanted a vintage Sub. Having seen this watch on screen at such an impressionable age, I think it burned itself into my subconscious with regard to how I thought a man’s watch should look.
However, whenever I’d begin saving for one, invariably other more pressing financial matters would appear and I would have to put the saving on hold.
This pretty much went on for decades. And as time passed, the mystique (and the price!) of this watch grew. All those National Geographic and TIME Magazine advertisements showing some intrepid explorer or researcher extolling the virtues of his Submariner.
All those images of some news correspondent reporting from war-torn (insert whichever country was at war in the ‘70s here), with his shirt sleeves rolled up and a steel Submariner attached to his wrist.
All those moments showing Bond wearing this watch as he once again saved Western civ. These images all combined to create a desire for this watch that I don’t think I can properly explain.
And so, I decided that, come hell or high water, now was the time to go for one of these. I even had my wife’s blessing. That always helps.
I did my homework, I spent months looking at the subtle differences in dial configurations of this watch since its inception in the early 1960s.
I must credit the phenomenal...
...website by a fellow who calls himself Beaumont Miller. This site should be your first port of call if you’re looking for a vintage Submariner 5513. It is staggering in its detail.
I knew what model I wanted. It had to be as close to 1983 as possible. It was around that time that Rolex began using the white gold rings around the hour markers which, in my view, ruined the overall look of the watch.
So, I settled on a Maxi Dial III or IV model between the years 1977 to 1982. I also wanted the patina on dial and hands to match as closely as possible. These were my two main criteria.
In the end, I got lucky and found a 1982 Maxi Dial IV model in very nice condition, from a seller on chrono24.
Now, despite this seller’s assurances that the watch was in original condition, it turns out that the crystal may be off a Sea Dweller of the same period, and the bezel is either an aftermarket one or a service bezel. Who cares? I can get these things sorted out when I get the watch serviced by Rolex Australia.
I was more concerned that the dial and hands matched and that the movement was clean. Which it was. After wanting one for so long, I had a strong feeling that the actual capture would not match the hunt or that I’d built this watch up in my head and given it too much hype over the years.
To an extent, this was the case when I first put the watch on my wrist. It is just a wristwatch, Teeritz, I thought to myself as I looked at it.
However...as the months rolled by, this watch, much like my Speedmaster Professional, worked its magic and slowly drew me in. Again. I once more caught visions of Bond and his 5513, of Steve McQueen stroking his chin wearing Persol 714s and a 5513 (okay, so he actually wore a 5512, but what’s a chronometer rating between friends?)...
...of photojournalists hefting beautiful Nikon SLRs with a 5513 on their wrists, and Redford in All The President’s Men.
At 40mm, it sits within the smaller dive watch category by today's standards, but is large enough to make a statement. The dial carries a lot of weight, but I think that has to do with the classic status of this watch.
Other brands have copied its design, with little flourishes of their own, but there is only one Submariner.
This is why I like the Seamaster 300 so much. Its dial design is so far removed from that of the Sub.
I may have had little deviations over the years, to be sure, but I was right to stay on track and get this watch. Finally. I have sometimes wondered what would have happened if I had just bought a Submariner sometime back in the ‘80s. I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t have a collection as big as this.
Too late now, Teeritz! Ahh well, no matter. I got there in the end. Just as well, too. My wife was sick of hearing about this watch.
So basically, yeah, my Bond watch dance card is pretty full;
And that’s where my collection stands at the moment. There are a handful of watches that don’t get worn much, and I’ll have to give some proper thought as to what to do about them.
Singer John Mayer once said that he usually takes about six watches with him when he tours. Each morning, he takes a look at these watches and asks himself; ‘Who do I want to be today?’
Then he chooses a watch. That way of thinking made absolute perfect sense to me. I will usually wear a particular watch because of what I think it conjures up in me.
When I wore a suit to work every day, I felt a little more assertive and sure-footed whenever I wore a dress piece like the AquaTerra or the 1962 Seamaster, for that old-school Michael Caine in ‘Alfie’ kind of vibe.
I base my watch choices on mood rather than wardrobe. The whole ‘you-can’t-wear-a-dive-watch-with-a-suit’ argument cuts no ice with me. I’m a Bond fan, remember?
Thinking about it, there are perhaps one or two more pieces I’d like to get. There’s still room in the collection for a Rolex DateJust or classic hand-wound 6694 model from the late ‘60s/early ‘70s.
I’d also love to have a modern Omega with in-house movement, but not much in their current range really thrills me, although I wouldn’t mind a 38.5mm Skyfall AquaTerra.
I think, too, that a GMT watch wouldn’t go astray, despite the fact that I don’t travel enough to warrant having one. If I did get one, I think the Sinn 856UTC would be it. It’s got such a distinctive look to it. Very similar look to the 556A that I bought my wife last year for our 18th wedding anniversary.
I had thought of going for a circa 2000 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control in steel. This watch measures 37mm. The current version is 39mm. I prefer the smaller one.
However, given the three vintage Omega Seamasters I have, I’m not sure if a J-LeC would get much wrist time.
An IWC of some kind would be nice, as would a Zenith.
However, I have reached a point where a watch really needs to dazzle me in order to be given serious consideration.
Having said that, I just saw pics yesterday of the new Tudor Black Bay with black bezel, dammit. For somebody who doesn’t dive, I do love dive watches.
I blame that damn Submariner that I saw as an impressionable kid back in the ‘70s. Can’t think too much about the Tudor.
Besides, it’s probably just a whim. This happens to me all the time. Although, if I’m still interested in a watch six or twelve months after I first see it, then I know I’m in trouble.
If anything, though, I think I should (obviously) thin down the collection a little. My watch box is pretty full at the moment.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. - If you can stand to read more about some of my watches, or you’re serving twenty-five to life in solitary (with internet access!), here are some links to my reviews;
THE TEERITZ AGENDA: Tissot Visodate 1957 Heritage Automatic--REVIEW
THE TEERITZ AGENDA: Hamilton Khaki Mechanical 44mm Hand-wound--REVIEW
THE TEERITZ AGENDA: Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises Re-Edition-REVIEW
THE TEERITZ AGENDA: Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Automatic (36.2mm) - REVIEW
And the chase for the Submariner;
THE TEERITZ AGENDA: The Rolex Submariner 5513 - A 40 Year Chase Comes To An End.
All pictures copyright (teeritz), except where noted. And obviously, I never took a photo of Steve McQueen, but I can't recall which website I found it on.