Before there was your smartphone to keep you on the ball there were high-end wristwatches with alarm complications for men on the go. I happen to have on offer two of the most classic Swiss wrist alarms ever designed in the analog age and at heavily marked down sales prices to boot. So don’t be late for your New Year’s date — these timepieces will make sure you arrive at your assignations in style and fashionably on time. Why not make promptness your New Year’s resolution and let a classy vintage wristwatch help you do it?
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox is one of the all-time classic alarm wristwatches, so much so that the venerable high end Swiss manufacture still makes the model to this very day, though they call it the “Réveil” for extra snob appeal. This Memo is the Jumbo version at 37mm in diameter and was destined for the American market, as you can tell by the “LeCoultre”-only dial signature. This means that JLC in Switzerland supplied the movement, in this case the workhorse caliber 815 bumper automatic, and then LeCoultre USA used the domestic Star Watch Company to case the watch thereby saving the import duties they would have paid had they simply shipped over the complete watch.
This particular example dates from the mid-1960s or thereabouts and features a front-loading all steel monocoque case for maximum water resistance. The alarm and its turntable disc are wound and controlled by the top crown and the time by the bottom. This watch is all original down to the oh-so-vintage silver dial with original Tritium lume dots & hands and the classic JLC movement has been fully serviced for years more faithful service. It even comes on its original hard-to-find JB Champion bracelet!
The second watch I have on sale to usher in the New Year is this wonderful all original Vulcain Cricket in uncommon stainless steel water resistant case. The Cricket has been renowned as the “watch of presidents” ever since Vulcain shrewdly gave one to Harry Truman in the late 1940s. They’ve been giving them to U.S. presidents ever since and if they’re good enough for the leaders of the free world they’re well up to the job of keeping you from being late to work. This late 50s/early 60s example features a beautiful original four-quadrant guilloché dial with contrasting pattern in silver-white with lovely pyramidal & bar markers. It also has a very cool and complicated dual-barrel proprietary caliber 120 movement that is operated by the one crown with two-way winding action and the pusher at “2” (and is best explained off site by the invaluable Ranfft.de pink pages for wristwatch movements). It has also been fully serviced and the alarm on this little beauty is loud enough to wake you after even the most Champagne-drenched New Year’s Eve party. Bottoms up!
It may be New Year’s Eve 2014 but this 2013 Arctic Monkey’s song has been rattling around my head since before Christmas.
The leadoff track from their mega-successful album AM, which featured a much more layered and lush R&B evolution of the Monkeys’ previously angular, singularly Anglo-Saxon sound, “Do I Wanna Know?” is a hook filled sugary delight while still retaining Alex Turner’s trademark verbal dexterity and straight-outta-Sheffield inflections. It’s also an unabashedly romantic paean, something else one might not expect from the usually acerbic band from South Yorkshire. And what better way to go into New Year’s Eve than by dropping the smart aleck pose and laying it all out there for the prize of a kiss?
Very few movies have ever packed more star power into their two hours than John Sturges’ 1960 Western extravaganza The Magnificent Seven. Featuring a presciently well-chosen collection of actors who would go on to become massive stars, the film is also fascinating for being a remake of Akira Kurosowa’s Seven Samurai with a perfectly logical transformation of milieu from the classic Samurai period of feudal Japan to the Old West of the United States/Mexico border. Highly skilled mercenaries are hired to defend a small, poor village from the depredations of a rampaging bandit and his gang, and Sturges shrewdly swaps swords for six guns even while the plot and characters of the two films remain largely identical. Of course, the ultimate irony is that Kurosowa was in fact striving to emulate a John Ford Western with Seven Samurai, so Magnificent Seven winds up being a Hollywood Western refracted back to its source by way of Japan. But it was Sturges’ singular genius to see how seven huge stars (eight if you count the bandit super villain) could fit together in one action-packed epic.
Sturges had already succeeded brilliantly with several other high wattage blockbusters like Gunfight at the OK Corral, which featured the always sparkling tandem of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas; Bad Day at Black Rock with a one-armed Spencer Tracy being menaced by all-star heavies Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin; andthe WWII action adventure Never So Few, which starred Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford and Gina Lollabrigida but was stolen by a young Steve McQueen in his breakout film role. Sturges immediately saw McQueen’s potential after the remarkable reaction to his supporting role in Few and teamed him that great bald showman, Yul Brynner, already famous for playing grand exotics like the King of Siam and Pharaoh, as the twin leads for his new project. Continue reading →
This may be akin to Columbus discovering America and this information is likely duplicated in the pricey but hyper focused Ploprof book by John Wallis of Ploprof.com. But I believe there is enough confusion and misinformation in the collector community about what is period original to warrant this post and make it available to all…
So when one searches for “Ploprof dials” one gets directed to the same litany of 3 accepted variations:
The Type I:
(Photo from Ploprof.com)
The Type II:
(Photo from Ploprof.com)
And the Type III (with full depth rating, usually Luminova replacement):
Photo from the Watch-Setter
However there is most certainly at least one more variation from the period of original Ploprof production and I believe it has been conflated with the Type III (I have been guilty of this myself in the past). Here is a dial that most probably predates the currently accepted “Type III” (should we call it the Type 2.5 or…?) from a watch I once owned many moons ago:
As you can see clearly the luminous material is not shiny or puffy like the Luminova of the Type III but still granular like the earlier dials (Tritium? Who knows — Omega never marked the Ploprof with T for Tritium markings so its likely a proprietary blend for their super divers but probably at least somewhat radioactive).
Also the fonts of the dial are clearly different than what is currently called the Type III:
You can see how much more clean and elegant the printing is (much less serif), which to me strongly indicates earlier production than the replacement dials for discontinued models. In fact, it strongly indicates the Luminova replacement dials were based on this last version of original Ploprof dial iteration.
Now you may ask where this dial fits in for such a “short-lived” watch as the original Ploprof if we already have 2 confirmed period original versions from the early 70s — the Type I with “600”-only sandwiched between “Seamaster” and “Professional” and the Type II with “600”-only below the “Professional” and “Seamaster”. Continue reading →
Kicking off this Holiday Season with a colorful and amazing vintage Certina DS-2 SuperPH 1000M dive watch, circa early 1970s. This is the most sought after case shape for Certina’s many rugged and well-regarded professional divers back in the day with the angled “volcano”-style rotating bezel and the big, broad C-shape of the lugs.
Not only is this watch a stone cult classic in its own right with its iconic yellow dial, which has taken on a warm, mellow amber tone with the years, but this particular example was recently owned by a US Army combat doctor who took it with him on his tour of duty in Afghanistan. This watch has seen some things at the front lines of that war and will come with the letter of provenance to prove it.
A classically big and heavy steel diver at 45mm wide it still wears comfortably and definitely makes a bold statement on the wrist. It also features a very high quality 28-jewel in house automatic movement and comes equipped with an always-appropriate vintage Isofrane rubber dive strap. This Certina DS-2 Super is a watch that’s hard to find in the best of circumstances. But with verifiable modern military service and amazing mint yellow dial, we’re talking about needle in a haystack territory here. If you’re a dive watch enthusiast who appreciates a watch with real history, don’t let it pass you by!