The weather is finally cooling down and there is a definite chill in the air as we hit mid-October. At long last it’s now the season for dressing up in handsome sweaters and vests, sports jackets & suits. And that makes my latest offering just about as fitting for these finer sartorial months as a Savile Row suit. It’s a very uncommon and drop dead gorgeous men’s Cartier Tank Obus in solid 18k Yellow Gold featuring a stunning silver guilloché Roman numeral dial and high-grade manual wind movement.
What makes this model so special is that it is part of the now discontinued and dearly loved Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP), which was produced in limited numbers from the late 1990s until the early 2000s, and marked the return of Cartier utilizing truly high quality movements again after many years in the ETA and quartz wilderness. Not to be confused with the common plain quartz versions strewn across the internet, this scarce CPCP Obus (reference W1527551, I believe) features Cartier’s caliber 430 MC, a highly decorated version of Piaget’s fine ultra-slim cal. 430P.
The elite CPCP collection also mined Cartier’s storied past for the special models created. In this case, the Tank Obus was originally designed in the late 1920s and furthered Louis Cartier’s fascination with modern weaponry as design inspiration with it’s stylized bullet-shaped lugs (“obus” means shell in French, as in artillery). This classic mid-size men’s dress watch is in really excellent pre-owned condition and with its unique, well-engineered screwed case and gorgeous “Lotus” pattern dial is absolutely stunning on the wrist.
For the man who prefers the understated elegance of a smaller watch combined with the timeless avant-garde design that is Cartier’s hallmark this fantastic Obus is guaranteed to fit the bill. Strap it on and see it enhance your entire style game just like that!
My second offering in September is nevertheless a premier watch — a classic early 1960s Universal Geneve Polerouter Date with stunning black gilt-gloss dial and trademark Speedmaster-style twisted lug case (both watches shared the same case maker back in the day). Said to be designed by the great Gerald Genta himself in his early days — the legend behind such later icons as the Royal Oak and the Nautilus — these early Polerouters are getting harder to find in good condition and more & more desirable overall.
And with good reason. The Polerouter was made tough with a high quality steel screw back case for water resistance and gained its name keeping good time for Scandinavian pilots flying over the highly magnetic North Pole shortcut in the 1950s. The Polerouter was also made innovative, as Universal quickly came up with a revolutionary micro-rotor system of automatic winding, their own proprietary Microtor, to reduce the thickness of the movement and therefore the watch. This winding system was so clever and ahead of its time that Patek Philippe revisited it in the modern era to legendary — and legendarily expensive! — effect.
Most of all the Polerouter was made super stylish courtesy of Mr. Genta. With its two-part dial composed of gorgeous black gilt-gloss crosshair interior and machined textured calibrated silver outer track, this Polerouter Date is nothing short of a stunner. Most of these dials have deteriorated badly and while this one does show a little of its age it’s still in really fine condition with crisp printing and wonderfully warm vintage charm. Equally well-matched with a suit and tie, an Oxford or a faded T this classic Polerouter is a fine companion for any occasion. But hurry — just as time waits for no one this legendary vintage icon is priced to fly away quickly!
As we leave summer behind and head into fall it’s a great time to break out vintage dress watches that can compliment the more sophisticated styles that autumn entails. And it doesn’t get much classier than this beautiful early 1950’s Omega Seamaster in classic “Beefy Lug” case. This lovely reference 2576 features a handsome original waffle dial with Breguet numerals at “12,” “3” and “9” that has aged to a very attractive ivory hue. Check out the wonderful patina on the original radium lume.
Also special, this Seamster’s all-steel water resistant 3-piece case doesn’t appear to have ever been polished. It’s rather special to see those handsomely chamfered fat lugs as the manufacturer intended them to be. Under the hood you’ll find Omega’s robust in-house bumper automatic caliber 344 movement, which hammers pleasantly when you move your wrist.
It all adds up to the complete vintage package: nicely proportioned, a super stylish layout and original, untampered-with condition. On the wrist this mega-charming classic mid-century Seamaster has unmistakable and timeless appeal. Whether you’re diving into a leaf pile or layering up with sweater and jacket for a night on the town this classy Omega will have you looking and feeling good.
My lucky run of quality vintage watches for August just keeps on coming up aces with this gorgeous circa 1950s Movado “Sport.” This watch was part of a jeweler’s deadstock that he inherited when he purchased the business and it is in near pristine condition. It features a stunning original eggshell silver dial with elegant partial Arabic numerals and closed minute track.
The beautifully designed 3-piece snap back all-steel case shows no signs of polish and the brushed and polished surfaces are pristine with razor sharp lugs. The outer caseback is marked for Stainless Steel and even has the original retailer’s price sticker on the back! This Sport is rather pleasingly over-engineered with an anti-magnetic dust cover protecting the movement. Can you imagine what a watch of this obvious build quality would go for if it said Patek on the dial instead of Movado?
Powering this vintage Sport is Movado’s high grade in-house Caliber 125 manual wind movement with 15 jewels and a nice oversized balance for greater accuracy. This is just an exceptionally well preserved watch with classic mid-20th century looks from one of the great houses of Switzerland. It all adds up to an uncommon opportunity to buy a time capsule sort of piece from 50+ years ago that you just can’t find every day. But if you act quickly you can make it yours and wear it everyday!
I promised more watch goodies for August and here’s another honey: a late 1940s Longines Special in all-steel “Sei Tacche” case. “Sei Tacche” is an Italian term that refers to the 6 notches for opening the screwed back just as “Tre Tacche”refers to water resistant Longines cases with only 3 notches. Both are highly coveted case styles for Longines watches.
Better yet though, in my opinion, is the drop dead gorgeous gloss black military style dial with wonderfully patinated Radium numerals, minute track and nicely delineated engine turned subsidiary seconds at “6.” Though I know of no military pedigree it is easy to imagine this dial was designed with sale to the armed forces in mind or at least certainly with the memory of Longines’ excellent WWII-era watches still echoing just a few short years later.
For in fact, I’ve already had written confirmation from Longines that this watch dates from 1948 and was originally sold in Sweden. It also features one of the great movements of that immediate post-War ear, the estimable in-house caliber 27M, no doubt a direct evolution of Longines’ vaunted 12L series.
Though not a big watch at around 33.5mm this Special is just that — true to its military forebears and an absolutely beautiful statement on the wrist with a primo engine under the hood. It’s got all the makings of a prime collectible. And one you can actually wear on a daily basis.
Summer may be gradually winding down but there are still some hot vintage watches to be had. Take this gorgeous mid-1960s Seamaster 600 for example. This classic manual winder from the great house of Omega features a stunning original silver sunburst dial and an elegant yet robust all-steel water resistant screw back case.
Inside that handsome packaging you’ll find another quality in-house movement from Omega, in this case the hand winding caliber 601 finely tuned with two positional adjustments. The connection between a manual watch and its owner can be a pleasurable one, reinforced as it is with the daily interaction of powering up the movement via turning the crown. And I predict a very happy symbiosis for this SM 600 and its new owner.
Whether you’re off to the office or out for a night on the town this classic Seamaster remains as timeless and versatile as when it was designed way back in 1965. Just strap it on and see what this stylish vintage Omega can do for you.
Kicking off summer and this most patriotic month I have a real sparkler of a vintage watch on offer — a beautiful pink gold capped C-shape Constellation. Dating from circa 1966 this Mad Men-esque beauty features Omega’s bold, sweeping lug design that ushered in a new stylistic era for their flagship Constellation line. And this pink gold capped version is surely one of the more uncommon iterations.
Furnished on its ultra-rare matching pink plated brick link bracelet, this Connie makes a stunning and refined impression on the wrist. Best of all all its various collector elements match perfectly: solid 14k pink gold smooth bezel, correct pink crown, solid pink gold Observatory medallion on the back, pink dial furniture and even a pink tension ring on the Omega-signed acrylic crystal! That sort of originality is pretty hard to come across in a 50-year-old watch.
This Connie also features its original and beautiful silver non-luminous dial and matching non-luminous stick hands. I am big fan of this elegantly slim, almost minimalist dial and hands combo and I think once you strap it on you will be, too. To make matters even sweeter, the exceptional 561 Chronometer caliber was serviced recently and so is ready for years’ more faithful service to its new owner. Accuracy, rarity and uniquely classy style all at an eminently reasonable price — what more could you ask for in a vintage dress watch?
The late, great Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli (1921-2003), head of Fiat for decades, eventual part owner of Ferrari and longtime chairman of the Juventus soccer club, is rightly regarded as a true men’s style icon. From his pioneering mix of high and low in his day-to-day fashion — work boots with a finely tailored suit, denim shirts and jeans with an ascot — to his signature wristwatch-over-the-cuff look, Agnelli was man of unique and cutting edge personal style.
Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise that Gianni Agnelli began sporting the massive Omega Ploprof diving watch during his vacations and more casual moments in the 1970s. The very avant-garde asymmetrical case design must have appealed to the industrialist in him, as well as its eye-catchingly oversized dimensions. The Ploprof was also engineered to be a true “wrist machine” and not just another wristwatch so wearing one couldn’t help but make a statement, something Agnelli always like to do. A keen yachtsman, the Ploprof’s bona fides as a rugged professional dive watch and a timepiece of superior water resistance must have also appealed to Agnelli’s adventurous nature.
It’s definitely cool that such a patrician, elegant figure could rock a beast like the PloProf and so effortlessly, as well. I never would have thunk it but then these pics don’t lie. Chalk another one up to the maestro of bespoke personal fashion. He certainly anticipated our current culture’s fascination with high-low attire and bold personal statements. But maybe don’t try wearing your PloProf outside your shirt cuff. After all, there was only one Gianni Agnelli and no matter how much of his ingenious, seemingly effortless élan has worked its way into our current sense of fine gentlemanly style some of his signature moves remain impervious being copied. Simply put, you can borrow from Agnelli but you can’t be Agnelli. So rock your Ploprof, old or new, however you see fit and make it part of your own look. You’ll always know you’re in very good company.
Well it’s the merry month of May already so time to get in the spring swing with something special — an uncommon 1970s Breitling reference 7806 Navitimer from my personal collection. What makes this vintage Navitimer special, you ask, other than being a fine example of Breitling’s legendary aviator’s computing watch? Well, the 7806 has an unusual movement under the hood: a seldom seen Valjoux 7740 rather than the traditional Venus 178 of nearly all other earlier Navi models.
The manual wind 7740 is an odd duck in that it is essentially a Heuer/Breitling/Hamilton Chronomatic cal 11/12 but without the autowind mechanism (not sure how these wound up being branded “Valjoux 7740” but I guess that is a story for another day). Also unusual is the placement of the constant seconds sub-register hand at “6” while the hour counter is at “9” and the minute counter at “3,” as well as a small red date placed between “4” and “5,” another first for a Navitimer. My surmise is that the 7740 was tapped to be one of the replacements for the venerable Venus 178 in Breitling’s manual 3-register chronographs for some or other reason, along with the non-date Valjoux 7736, as you see these calibers start to appear with corresponding revised model references in the early 70s.
All that technical talk aside, this mid-1970s Navi features gorgeously patinated Tritium luminous figures on its “Big Eye” Twin Jet logo dial, colorful red slide rule accents and an oversized 41mm all-steel case in excellent condition. That gives this beautiful vintage watch great presence and panache, as well as a being a model you’re not likely to see on someone else’s wrist. It’s just the kind of interesting, low production piece that gets the attention of fellow watch collectors in general and vintage Breitling collectors in specific. Just back from a full overhaul, this is a functional tool watch for timing fast feats on land or air and from a vintage marque I actually think is underrated considering the prices being fetched by more obscure brands. So take a good look and see of you don’t want to add this classic reverse panda chrono to your collection. With this beautiful and uncommon Breitling Navitimer on your wrist, the sky’s the limit!
All that intriguing history aside, this fine neo-vintage chronograph is definitely a stunner in the here and now. Faithful in nearly every way to the original versions, this all-steel screw back watch features the classic Carrera-sized 36mm wide case with its iconic long, angled lugs. The black dial — these 1964 Re-Editions also came in silver but the black is the sexier version, IMO — features fine white contrast printing for the decimal track and engine-turned black sub-registers, as well as an inverted pie pan outer silver minute track. The original Tritium luminous has acquired a lovely ivory patina through the years on both the dial and the perfectly matching, uniquely Heuer-shaped hands.
Under the hood is the legendary Lemania cal. 1873 chronograph movement — essentially the same movement that has powered Omega’s Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch from 1968 on — beautifully finished by Heuer with what appears to be rhodium plating and sporting 18 jewels. This robust caliber is a worthy successor to the venerable Valjoux 72 movement that powered the original 1960s three-register Carreras and all chrono functions are super crisp with timekeeping and power reserve excellent. Complimenting this racing-inspired watch beautifully is a modern shell cordovan rally strap, which also has this model’s genuine Heuer-signed “B” buckle installed.
Running like a top and costing a fraction of what an original vintage black manual Carrera would run you these days, this CS3111 Re-Edition is top quality genuine 60s style at an affordable price. Snap it up, strap it on… and go!