Category Archives: Vintage Watches

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — May selection

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.

BreitlingNavi7806-move3 copy

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.

BreitlingNavi7806-1 copy

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!

Breitling7806Navi-wrst2 copy

Check out the complete ad with many more pictures and complete condition report over at the always hopping Omega Forum’s Private Sales CornerON HOLD

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — April selection

Up for sale this tail end of April is a super cool and fairly uncommon 1990s TAG-Heuer reference CS3111 “Carrera 1964 Re-Edition” manual wind chronograph featuring a beautiful black dial with original lightly patinated Tritium luminous. Released in 1996, the 1964 Re-Edition Carreras were significant in that they represented an important acknowledgment by the modern TAG-Heuer group of their glory days in the 60s and 70s when they were simply Heuer and made sporting chronographs of the highest quality, often particularly utilized in motorsports. One might even go so far as to say that by mining its storied past and creating an exacting tribute to the original Carrera it led TAG-Heuer directly to their vintage-inspired renaissance that continues to this day.

HeuerCarreraCS3111-7 copy

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.

HeuerCarreraCS3111-move copy

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.

Carrera-wrst copy

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!

Check out the full ad with many more pictures and complete condition report over at the very Heuer-centric Chronocentric ChronoTrader Forum.  ON HOLD

Watch Collector’s Notebook: The Keepers — Rolex 6240 Daytona

When you get to a certain level as a wristwatch collector/enthusiast you may find yourself test driving a lot of different watches but keeping relatively few of them long term. This sort of restlessness isn’t uncommon — many of us are looking to replicate the thrill of acquisition that we felt more frequently when we were just starting out in the hobby and all was new to us. But these newer infatuations — and even old ones — can be fleeting as our tastes evolve. And obviously financial circumstances can dictate selling off pieces just as much as falling out of love with a watch. So I wanted to talk about the watches that are in my Keeper category rather than those that simply come and go and how and why they stay there year after year. These are the pieces that I would be most loathe to covert into cash whatever their current or future value. They’re the watches that I enjoy, wear and that have pride of place in my collection. In other words, they’re not going anywhere if I can help it because they’re what I feel makes my collection uniquely mine.

6240-cls

I’ll begin this new series of personal reflections on my keepers pretty much at the top — with my mid-1960s Rolex reference 6240 Cosmograph Daytona. Picking one’s favorite watch is like picking one’s favorite song. There’s never really one top spot just a select few all-time greats that you keep coming back to. For me, this Daytona is one of those evergreen classics that always puts a smile on my face. Typical of what makes Vintage Rolex so seductive as a pursuit, the 6240 has a lot of subtle nuances and details that all add up to make it a special watch. The reference is the first true Oyster chronograph produced by Rolex with not only a bigger screw down crown than its predecessors but also screw down pushers to prevent the wearer from accidentally engaging them when in the water. This latter safety feature marked a sea change in chronograph design and is still found on Rolex’s modern Daytonas, as well as other competitors’ sport chronographs like AP’s non-Offshore Royal Oak and Vacheron’s Overseas.

6240-angl-3

My example has an early serial # for the 6240 reference at 1.2 million, which dates it to circa 1965, the model’s debut year. And it is also delightfully period correct, with the original shorter “stubby” screwed pushers, original Mark I black acrylic UPH bezel and the correct type of sub register hands (note the difference between the thin constant seconds and the thicker hour and minute counter hands). The case shows wear but not any polish, just how I like my watches and a pretty uncommon bonus, as the custom back in the day was regular polishings at service to “refresh” the watch. As you can see the dial does not have the word Oyster on it despite the big water resistant upgrades in the 6240. Very soon screw down pusher models would have Oyster printed on their dials but in true Rolex fashion the early generation 6240s tend not to, as Rolex was keen to get the new improved Daytona out there and simply used pump pusher dials early on. There is also the theory that these non-Oyster 6240s might have started life as Paul Newman-dialed models but were swapped out by dealers anxious to get rid of that then-unpopular style and move their merchandise. Due to the sheer frequency of the non-Oyster dials — both small and large DAYTONA fonts — occurring exclusively in the earlier serial number ranges this seems unlikely to me. Also note that at this early date there are no Sigma symbols surrounding the T SWISS T nomenclature below the “6” counter. This addition, making a bigger deal out of the already extant white gold markers on Rolex dials, would come later in the 60s.

CosmoWrst-2 copy

Dial condition is paramount on the list of criteria that I use to judge a watch and this silver panda dial is essentially perfect with the fragile luminous dots all intact and having a lovely matching patina with the hour and minute hands. This generation of dial with the small Daytona printed in the top quadrant and not in red above the hour counter is also interesting in that there is a lacquer coat on top of the sunburst finish. This dial finishing process was abandoned by Rolex on later production models like the 6263 and 6265, the Oyster successors of the short run 6240, and on this dial it leads to a pearlescent quality with a glowing, subtle rainbow effect at certain angles like mother of pearl or petroleum floating on water that I find very unusual and attractive.

Stock photo from watchonista.com

Stock photo from watchonista.com

Inside the watch is of course a redoubtable Valjoux 72 manual wind column wheel movement. Now, these Rolex Valjoux 72 chronos are sometimes bashed for using such a ubiquitous movement while paradoxically they also have their use by Rolex highlighted to jack up the prices of other Val. 72 chronos (“Sure it’s a Wittnauer but the movement is the same as in the Rolex Daytona!”). But to say that the Valjoux 72 in a Rolex Daytona is the same as those found in so many other chronographs of the 1960s is not really accurate. Rolex by this time was using their own proprietary balance incorporating a Breguet hairspring and microstella screws for finer regulation and greater accuracy and robustness. This is why Rolex Valjoux 72 iterations go through a dizzying array of caliber designations in a relatively short time. From the time Rolex began tinkering with the balance in the early 60s, you’ll find that the stamp changes from simply 72 (or VZ if much earlier) to 72A, 72B, 722, 722-1 and eventually 727 in the early 1970s. Most experts feel that the 6240 could have come with the 72B, 722 or 722-1 and mine has a 72B, which for me fits the early serial number, as it is the oldest variation in that sequence.

6240-angl-cls

So all that backstory accounted for why is this Daytona a keeper for me? Well, for one thing it’s a relatively rare reference as far as Cosmographs go, perhaps the third most uncommon model reference behind the extremely short run ref. 6262 pump pusher model and maybe the pump 6264. It’s certainly the rarest screw pusher model. And since it is also the first screw pusher Rolex chronograph that also makes it a bit special, as it represents a significant technological innovation in chronograph design. Obviously I love the look — it’s very clean and mid-60s with the simple, elegant bar markers and elongated stick hands. The way the black acrylic Tachy insert plays off against the black subdials is magic, not to mention that shimmering quality that the silver sunburst dial has due to the lacquer coat. At 37mm it’s a perfect size in my estimation, fit for any occasion casual or formal, and it’s also in all-original condition. And frankly it’s a premier Rolex Grail-type watch to other collectors, a prestigious reference that is simply difficult to come by in the watch world and a true blue chipper seemingly immune to the whims of fad or fashion. Because let’s be honest — status is not inconsequential to the pieces we choose to keep in our collections, whether we think we’ve found a sleeper or whether we’re buying into an established hierarchy of elite watches. Fair or not, the Rolex Daytona is widely considered the king of vintage chronographs and the 6240 is right up there with anything that isn’t a PN or Killey.

6240-brochure

Lastly, with the honest admission that money is always a part of the equation, when I bought the watch I felt I paid a small fortune because for me it was. But it was right after the bubble had burst post-Revolution in mid-2009 (not to mention post-housing bubble) and actually Daytona prices were a bit soft. Since then they have more than recovered and lately they seem to have gone bananas again, as with so many nice vintage mechanical chronographs. So on the one hand it remains a solid investment and on the other I probably couldn’t afford to buy it again. It was a stretch nine years ago but nothing like the stretch it would be now and I’d have a hard time justifying spending that kind of money on one watch, no matter how fantastic. So I’m happy to have bought it when I did even though it was still a hell of a lot of money at the time.

CosmoWrst-3 copy

All these factors add up to the sum total of why I keep any watch in my permanent collection: beauty and aesthetic appeal first; then desirability and overall importance within the watch world; and then monetary considerations. For me, this 6240 Daytona Cosmograph also marks a milestone in my collecting life where I saw a watch from my ultimate wish list and converted it into something I actually owned and could wear anytime I wanted. It still gives me a thrill every time I see it, wind it up & strap it on and I still feel a sense of accomplishment as a watch collector by having it in my collection. And isn’t that really be the definition of a Keeper?

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — December selection

You know December’s finally arrived when the air has gotten genuinely cold and the Holidays are just around the corner. And as long as we’ve all got visions of beautiful gifts on our minds it’s probably not a bad thing that I have an abolsutely gorgeous Rolex on offer this month. An uncommon transitional Datejust with old-style acrylic crystal and beautifully warm Tritium luminous but with the high-beat, quickset date caliber 3035 under the hood, this circa 1979 reference 16030 is pretty much the best of both worlds — old school, classic good looks with the functionality of a more user friendly, more accurate movement than previous Datejust models.

16030djgray-move-copy

Even better than its technical sophistication is the absolutely fantastic silver-gray dial, a metallic marvel that changes from gunmetal gray to pure silver depending upon the angle. It’s essentially flawless after all these years and looks amazing on the wrist. And with its timeless 36mm case size and Rolex-signature “Castellated” engine-turned bezel, this all-steel stunner can be worn with a suit or a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, making it an ideal daily driver.

16030djgray-angl-copy

Add to that its really nice tight and long period Rolex USA Jubilee bracelet and the overall Excellent vintage condition of the watch and this transitional 16030 makes for the perfect stocking stuffer for that special someone. Even if that special someone turns out to be you.

16030djgray-11-copy

Check out the full ad with complete condition report and many more pictures over at Vintage Rolex Forum’s Market section. ON HOLD

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — October selection

Up for sale this month is this uncommon late 1960s Omega ref. 145.020 Seamaster “Soccer Timer” chronograph with beautiful original cream-white dial featuring high contrast red/black sub registers and an inner fixed Tachymeter ring. While it was originally believed that these chronos were manufactured for use in yachting regattas the accepted wisdom now is that they were designed for soccer trainers and referees with the addition to the minute register of a figure for 45 minutes, the length of a football half.  Either way, it is an awesome looking watch and in fact the dial design was so striking and distinctive that recently Omega reissued some modern versions of it.

omega145020soccer-sun-copy

This fantastic and ultra-cool Soccer Timer features sharp chamfers and essentially perfect sunburst satin finish on top of the large 40mm case. Even better, though, is the gorgeous original creamy-white Omega Tritium dial featuring a finely articulated dark gray minute track and red/black sub-registers, with the oversized minute counter specially marked to easily read 45-minute intervals. The dial has a delightful textured matte finish, shows very few signs of age and all Tritium lume plots are present and have acquired a pleasing patina. The bold matching hour and minute hands and fluorescent orange chrono sweep seconds just complete what is simply a terrifically pleasing and unique original Omega Seamaster Soccer Timer layout in top condition.

omega145020soccer-move-copy

Under the hood is the redoubtable Omega manual-wind caliber 861, the same workhorse as found in their famed Moonwatch after they phased out the legendary cal. 321. With a 27 million serial number dating it to circa 1968 and looking very bright and pristine, this classic chrono movement had a complete service at Omega UK in 2013 and so is running like a champ, with all timekeeping and chronograph functions operating flawlessly.

omega145020soccer-wrst-copy

When you look at how the prices of vintage mechanical chronos have skyrocketed in the past few years, the Omega Soccer Timer remains a premium piece that is still reasonably affordable for both the aspiring or experienced collector. If anything, a beautiful example like this one has got upside potential once people figure out it’s a better quality watch than many others currently in its price range. For style, functionality and pure funky cool you can’t go wrong with this beautiful cream dial Soccer Timer. You’re sure to be noticed in the best possible way.

Check out the complete ad with many more pictures and full condition report over at the excellent OmegaForums.net’s Private Watch Sales forum.  SOLD

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — September selection

Well here’s something you don’t find every day: a 55-year-old watch with its original boxes and papers! But that’s the case with this classic gold-capped vintage 1961 Omega Constellation that I’m offering this month. Not only is it in truly Excellent and unmolested vintage condition with no signs of polish, an all-original non-luminous crosshair dial and its original plated Beads of Rice bracelet but it’s also accompanied by its original double box-set and matching guarantee papers. And that turns an already cool vintage watch into collector grade just like that.

14092conniebp-bp-copy

Under the hood is the fantastic Omega automatic caliber 561, arguably part of the best family of mass-produced movements in the history of horology. It features 24-jewels, a semi-quickset date function and has 5 positional adjustments and one for temperature. This fine tuning enabled the 561 to pass its time-keeping tests with flying colors and that’s why it was such a successful movement for Omega’s flagship line, the always Chronometer-rated Constellation.

14902conniebp-move-copy

Take affordability, elegance and mechanical precision along with classic early-60s Gerald Genta-designed vintage style and add then hard to find pieces of original provenance and you’ve got a special package for the discerning collector. That this Connie has survived for so long in such great original condition and still is paired with its factory packaging and paperwork is nothing short of magical. At least that’s the way I look at these sort of wonderful vintage watch finds. And if you’re reading this I bet you do, too.

14092conniebp-paps-copy

Check out the complete ad with many more pictures and full description over at the excellent OmegaForums.net’s Private Watch Sales section. BLOWOUT SALE

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — July selection

On offer as we wind down July is an always in-style classic vintage Rolex Datejust in steel. Only this one has a special twist — a very uncommon textured blue dial. Dating from the early 1970s, this is a reference 1603, which means a Datejust with steel “Castellated” patterned engine-turned bezel, and it come from an era when Rolex simply didn’t produce that many DJs in blue. Relatively common in 35mm Date models but not a lot of Rolex’s full size 36mm flagship model had them for whatever reason.

1603DJBlue-10 copy

Like a lot of blue dials from back in the day, this beautiful pie-pan shows signs of oxidation and reaction to the Tritium luminous plots. But that only adds to the overall vintage charm of this handsome and versatile watch. Built Rolex tough, I don’t really think the stainless steel case has ever been polished. Well worn, yes, but polish is not really evident, as it features thick lugs, undistorted lug holes and sharp edges.

1603DJBlue-lng copy

It comes on its original Rolex USA-made Jubilee style bracelet and better yet, the great caliber 1575 workhorse movement has just been fully overhauled for years more faithful service. If you’re seeking the classic look of a vintage Rolex Datejust but one with a dial color that elevates it to something a little more special, you may well have found your watch.

Check out the full ad with complete condition report and many more pictures over at Vintage Rolex Forum’s Market section. SOLD

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — June selection

We are surely ending the month of June with a bang because have I got something special for you haute horology buffs. Up for sale on consignment is this absolutely stunning Patek Philippe reference 2552, aka the true “Disco Volante”. A marvel of mid-century engineering inside and out, the Disco Volante gets its name from its large, round 36mm diameter and tall, double-stepped bezel, making it look a bit like a flying saucer. Though that said, it’s definitely more suited to black tie than Area 51.

PP2552-crwn copy

Of course this heavy yellow gold classic 1950s men’s dress watch is beautiful on the outside, as you’d obviously expect, with a stunning original eggshell dial that has acquired a gorgeous ivory patina through the years. But it might get even better under the hood where you’ll find Patek’s first-ever automatic movement, the legendary caliber 12-600 AT, ticking away. Far ahead of its time when it was introduced, the 12-600 AT features 30 jewels, the Geneva seal reserved only for exceptional calibers, a solid 18k rotor with stunning engine turned engraving that winds in both directions for maximum efficiency, 5 positional adjustments, as well as further adjustments for heat, cold and isochromism, and Patek’s patented Gyromax balance and a top flight Breguet hairspring all beating at a rapid 19,800 bph. And did I mention it is drop dead gorgeous to behold?

PP2552-move copy

This fantastic machine has just been fully serviced for years’ more faithful service to its new owner and this wonderful Disco Volante also comes with a genuine Patek croc strap. Better yet, it has its period correct 18k Patek buckle, too, a valuable accessory in its own right. Continue reading

Rolex Collector’s Notebook: The mystery of the “Neat Fonts” matte meters-first 5512 Submariner dial

Grateful thanks for this article go to timlua and HQ Milton for kindly contributing their dials and data. Thank you, gentlemen! I’m also especially indebted to the great collector & Man’s Fine Life contributor Beaumont Miller II, not only for sharing his watch photos but also for his invaluable insights about the “Neat Fonts” dial, its place in matte dial chronology and particularly his excellent observations on its similarity to the mid-1960s gilt Sub dials. My heartfelt appreciation for sharing your expertise, my friend — couldn’t have done this without you!

One of the things that makes collecting vintage watches so interesting, and Vintage Rolex in particular, is trying to decode the subtle changes that took place in ostensibly “identical” watches those many years ago. We see evolutions in movements, in cases but most intriguingly we see variations in dial layouts and typography. And just when you think you’ve figured out a dial sequence and its logical chronology, something else out of the ordinary comes along and makes you look at things with fresh eyes.

timlua's 5512 from the VRF Dial Archive -- the watch that put me on the hunt

timlua’s 5512 from the VRF Dial Archive — the watch that put me on the hunt.

Such is the case with what I call the “Neat Fonts” matte meters-first 5512 dial. I first saw this interesting dial several years ago, when a Vintage Rolex Forum member named timlua submitted his mid-1960s 5512 for the Dial Archive. I knew I had to have one… and it took me 8 more years to hunt one down. As you can clearly see and what struck me right away, the printing on this dial is not at all like what we normally see on the first generation of matte meters-first 551x dials.

A standard matte meters-frist dial -- courtesy HQ Milton

A standard matte meters-first dial — courtesy HQ Milton

Those first gen matte dials for the Submariner have always had a particularly “first draft” quality to my eye, with rather scraggly fonts and slightly uneven printing. And it makes sense that Singer, undertaking their first try at this new matte-style of dial manufacture and departing their tried and true gilt/gloss method of dial printing, might have had some teething issues with their printing techniques. But not so the “Neat Fonts” 5512 dial. You can already see the clean typography that would become a hallmark of the later 1960s and early 1970s Singer dials: nicely proportioned, flat-ish bottom Coronet with a small “mouth”; SUBMARINER text very clean with a distinctive snake-like “S”; and the depth rating pretty level with minimal jump to the numbers and open 6s.

5512MetersFirst-dial-edit

In fact, the “Neat Fonts” dial does not resemble the Mark I meters-first Sub dials at all. It actually resembles the pre-Bart gilt/gloss dials of the middle 1960s with their high standards of printing and execution. So much so that aside from the application of the SWISS – T<25 you might even think that Singer used the same dial dye for the process. Perhaps they did after figuring out how to utilize that gilt-era dye/tampon, which featured a reverse printing method, and apply it to the paint-on-top method of the matte dials. But more likely they returned to it as a template for the new matte-style dye and that is why they are so similar if not quite identical.

5513gilt-coronet 5512MetersFirst-coronet

5513gilt-depth 5512MetersFirst-depth

It also shares some characteristics with the Mark III Red Submariner dial, particularly the fonts for the depth rating, the SCOC text and the odd little feature of the dash in the “SWISS – T<25” not quite being centered over the “30” tick.

Photo courtesy Beaumont Miller II

Photo courtesy of Beaumont Miller II

5512MetersFirst-depth_SCOC

Photo derived from Vintage Rolex Forum's Classic "Everything Red Sub" by Mark Lerman

Photo derived from Vintage Rolex Forum’s Classic “Everything Red Sub” by Mark Lerman

(If you visit the great site DoubleRedSeaDweller.com you can also see that the SCOC text on the Neat Fonts and Mark III Red Sub is highly similar in format/style to the Mark I 1665 Double Red Sea-Dweller, indicating another connection there.)

Making this iteration even more interesting is that unlike just about every no-date Sub Rolex ever made, the “Neat Fonts” dial is always to the best of my knowledge found only in 5512s and never 5513s. Continue reading

tomvox1’s Vintage Watches for Sale — March selection, Pt. II

Proving that a mid-sized watch can still be tough and cool this uncommon vintage Ernest Borel Sub 200T Sharkhunter diver with stunning eccentric matte Tritium lume dial & original matching handset is now up for grabs on all the big forums.

ErnestBorelSharkhunter-6 copy

The story on this Sharkhunter, which is like a 37mm cross between a Submariner and Doxa’s larger, more famous model with the same name, is that at the time this watch was produced in the early 1970s the Synchron Aubrey* company owned Doxa & Borel and had no compunction about using virtually identical dials and model nomenclature across two ostensibly separate brands (*corrected thanks to info provided by @vintagediver on IG — thank you!).

ErnestBorelSharkhunter-move copy

This well-made, rugged tool watch features the ever reliable ETA cal. 2872 movement with quickset date, shock protection and beautiful gilt finish. And putting the cherry on top of the sundae, this tough ETA movement has just been fully overhauled by my watchmaker for years more of faithful service.

ErnestBorelSharkhunter-wrst copy

Ideal for the guy who favors an under-40mm watch, this Borel diver has the striking tool watch looks and the desirable vintage originality to make a greater impression than its relatively modest price tag would suggest. Get it while you can so you can be ready for any ocean adventure and then look super stylish for beachside cocktails afterwards.

Check out the full ad with many more pictures and complete description over at Timezone.com’s Sales Corner.  ON HOLD