Tag Archives: Dive Watches

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

tomvox1’s Vintage Watches for Sale — March selection

On offer this month is this absolutely stunning mid-1970s vintage Rolex reference 5512 Submariner. The true Steve McQueen watch — don’t let anyone tell you differently — the 5512 is the iconic Chronometer-rated no date Sub, which was produced in ever diminishing numbers as time went on and Rolex realized that not many customers cared enough about the fancy movement to pay the higher price when compared with the standard non-Chronometer cal. 1520 5513 model. It was, in fact, discontinued in the late 70s.

5512NonSerif-4 copy

But the discerning few were willing to pony up then and still are today. This is one of those magic Rolex Sports models that you come to appreciate as you learn the history of Rolex’s dive watches and how they all fit together in the big picture. Simply put, the 5512 is an elite Submariner and a cut above most matte 5513s or 1680s, all other things being equal.

5512NonSerif-move copy

And this particular example is even a bit more special than most other matte 5512s. Along with its beautiful 4-line SCOC dial (technically referred to as “Non-Serif” style in the ever more complex glossary of dial definitions) it displays a plethora of all-original qualities: wonderfully patinated Tritium luminous; matching original hands; a sexy Fat Font bezel insert with Tritium pearl; domed acrylic crystal for that unbeatable vintage look; and it even comes with its original Folded Oyster bracelet with “PATENTED” diver’s extension. It’s not easy to find a 40-year-old watch in this sort of all around period correct condition — this baby is truly a survivor!


To put the cherry on top of the sundae, this great 5512 has just been fully overhauled for years’ more faithful service to its new owner. If you’re looking for an elite Rolex tool watch with that extra special, extra collectible quality of 100% period correctness — not to mention that magical McQueen connection — look no further. Your Submariner has arrived.

5512NonSerif-lng copy

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

The Allure of Military Watches — The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms “No Radiations” Bundeswehr

First off, let me say I don’t claim to be an expert on the vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms “No Radiations” Bundeswehr-issued diver. Everything I’ve learned is from other, more knowledgeable collectors sharing their considerable expertise about this model with me. That said, I have owned two of them so I thought it would be useful to at least present what I do know about the watch, as well as what are hopefully some helpful pictures.


The issued Blancpain Fifty Fathoms “No Radiations” dive watches were requisitioned by the German Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) for their elite naval commando unit, the Kampfschwimmer, from around the mid-1960s until the early 1970s, when they were replaced with another model of BPFF (the big cushion shaped one with the crown at “4”, a red 3H on the dial to denote Tritium and the co-called “sterile” bezel with luminous triangle only and no numerals or hash marks). It’s no surprise that the German Navy chose Blaincpain divers for their elite frogmen forces. From its earliest conception the Fifty Fathoms was meant to be a serious purpose built diver, as proven by its legendary connection to the great Jacques Cousteau nearly from the start. The design was so good that the “No Radiations” version from the 1960s can directly trace its lineage to the models made for for the US Navy in the 1950s, the legendary MilSpec 1 and the even more uncommon Tornek-Rayville. (While the TR 900 is technically not considered a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, the MilSpec & TR 900 are almost identical and certainly Allen Tornek was re-badging Rayvilles as Blancpains all along — so what is the difference between a Rayville that doesn’t have “Blancpain” on the dial and one that does really — aside from rarity, that is?).


The idiosyncratic red & yellow crossed-out trefoil badge with a tiny “No Radiations” printed within took the place of the earlier models’ moisture indicator disc above the “6” marker and made a virtue out of the new regulations regarding radioactivity on wristwatches, the famous “T<25” standard. No doubt the previous 1950s versions of Fifty Fathoms utilized highly radioactive Radium for their super luminous dials and bezels, like so many other watchmakers at the dawn of the Toolwatch era, as well as a rumored incorporation of the even deadlier Promethium. And so the “No Radiations” badge was a very overt way for Blancpain to indicate that they had broken from the use of highly radioactive lume and were now firmly on board with the “Less than 25 milicuries of Tritium maximum” mandate codified in the early 1960s. This had the added benefit of making the watch suitable for military duty, as the T<25 standards were also strictly enforced in the martial world, with older Radium-lumed watches regularly being scrubbed at service, re-lumed with Tritium and then returned to duty. And just to be certain that they were getting the message across, Blancpain still printed “T < 25 MC” at a cocky angle below the “5” marker, one of the few companies aside from Rolex to use such a clear literal notation of the radioactive content of their dial & hands.


The case of the “No Rads” Fifty Fathoms in a nicely sized 40mm across without the crown by around 50mm lug-to-lug. It has an all-steel three-piece screwed construction, more polished than a MilSpec but sharing the long sweeping lugs with squared off edges. Continue reading

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — January selection, Pt. IV

As collectors in any hobby know, sometimes you’ve got to sell something special to get something special. Such is the case with my trusty Panerai Luminor Marina PAM 61, a watch I”ve had for many years and never thought of parting with. However, something special has come up on my radar and I’ve made the tough decision to let this stunning Tobacco-dialed titanium beauty go. But my loss can be your gain.

PAM61-2 copy

With a D-serial number prefix this 61 was produced circa 2001 in 3000 examples that year and still features a solid titanium back and not a display version, something Panerai purists prefer. It has a tough and durable 44mm titanium case construction incorporating Panerai’s proprietary oversize crown guard, a well protected lever-locking system. Hard to beat that machine-like crown locker for cool factor not to mention the form-follows-function contribution it makes to the model’s impressive 300 Meters of water resistance.

PAM61-move copy

There’s also a chronometer movement under the hood, the workhorse OP II which is a modified ETA 6497-2 with bespoke decoration. The watch keeps great time and wears like a dream due to the lighter-than-steel titanium case. And the brushed finish tones down the normal Panerai bling factor, making the 61 a more subtle everyday option than their highly polished steel brethren. But the real wow factor is that great Tobacco-brown dial with matte finish. Between the gray of the case and whatever strap you put on, this watch absolutely pops on the wrist with its wonderfully warm brown look. You might call it an autumn but believe me it’s perfect all year round!

PAM61-bk copy

Check out the complete ad over at the great Paneristi Forum’s Collector’s Market for many more pics and complete description. ON HOLD

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — January selection, Pt. III

Third up in January we return to those indispensable Rolex tool watch roots by offering this fantastic circa 1984 Rolex ref. 5513 Submariner, one of the all-time classic Vintage Rolex with one of the earlier appearances of the famous gloss/white gold surround dial. Last of the plastic Rolex Subs, this 5513 is in Excellent overall vintage condition and the beautiful dial is Near Mint (and that’s only because I’m a real tough grader!).

5513-8.3milGloss-2 copy

This dial is extremely glossy and has developed a lovely patina to the original Tritium luminous plots. Better yet, the hands actually match the dial plots in tone, something that is really hard to find on these gloss/WG 5513s due to so many of the handsets being replaced over the years. Simply stunning patina on this Sub!

5513-8.3milGloss-8 copy

Also cool is that the original bezel insert is a late Fat Font version not the more prevalent thin style from the late 80s. And this great Sub also comes on its original 93150 Heavy Oyster bracelet with correct 580 ends, the true business partner of any late Submariner with it’s purpose built diver’s flip lock clasp and wetsuit extension, two innovations pioneered by Rolex.

5513-8.3milGloss-bkl1 copy

Adding to the overall value, this great Rolex has also just been fully serviced and so is ready to rock and roll for many more years, whether you’re on land or sea. Strap it on and see where this  classic Submariner takes you. With a dive watch this tough yet stunning, it’ll likely be straight to the top.

Check out the complete ad over on Timezone’s Showcase section for many more pictures and complete condition report.  SOLD

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — January selection

And now for something completely different… Since man cannot live by vintage alone I’m starting the New Year off big — literally! — by offering up a modern watch, albeit one with a definite neo-vintage feel. It’s an oversized diver crafted in sandblasted steel by Vintage VDB, a small manufacturer located in Erfurt, Germany.

VDBNoLimit-bk copy

This is one of only 40 examples in this blasted configuration, truly living up to that much-abused term Limited Edition. But that’s not all that makes this “No Limit” stand out — it’s a real beast at 46mm wide x 56mm long x 17mm thick, as rugged as they come. And unlike most of Vintage VDB’s offerings it has long, conventional lugs that make it a bit more versatile for average sized wrists in my opinion. Of course, if you’re already a fan of oversized divers like Panerai, Kaventsmann and Ennebi Fondale you will pull this bad boy off with aplomb.

VDBNoLimit-wrst copy

This handsome model also features a lot of carefully chosen details with definite allusions to famous Blanpain, Omega and Rolex/Tudor tool watches. To wit: A really great looking matte black dial with applied luminous-filled markers. Cool red accents including the reverse printed “No Limit” badge. White-on-black date at “3”. Brushed steel luminous-filled sword-and-dagger hands with classic Rolex-style “dot” sweep seconds hand. Plus, all the Luminova on the dial & hands has really nice creamy vintage-style patina added. That all ads up to something of a modern classic in its own right to my eyes.

VDBNoLimit-1A copy

This uncommon VDB Vintage “No Limit” comes complete with box, card and extra strap and is available at a significant savings over the factory’s MSRP, which already represents remarkable value for money when you consider the impressive construction and high quality ETA movement ticking away inside that huge mass of steel. So if you’re looking for a tough-as-nails military-inspired diver in a jumbo modern package, look no further. The “No Limit” has got your name on it.

See the complete ad with many more pictures and complete description over at Timezone.com’s Sales Corner.  SOLD

Watch Collector’s Notebook: The Rolex 1680 Submariner — one vintage model, many looks, always desirable

When Rolex introduced the reference 1680 Submariner circa 1969 they did something entirely new for the brand: they created their first-ever dive watch with date function. Now your first reaction might well be: “What took them so long?” Blancpain, Omega and others had long had date divers in their portfolio. But the wheels of change move slowly at Rolex and they are never terribly concerned about following the latest trends. So no doubt the question of whether to make a date version of their iconic Submariner was considered with all due deliberation as the 1960s progressed and then the decision to proceed finally taken at the end of the decade when all the numbers had been crunched and the sales potential gamed out. In the end, it proved to be a very smart if somewhat belated call by the marque of the Coronet.


Using their recently developed caliber 1575 date/chronometer movement, which Rolex had previously reserved for their ubiquitous Datejust and legendary GMT-Master, the first versions of 1680 Submariner had the very interesting quirk of red writing for the model name on the matte dial. There is a great, thorough examination of the different acceptable Red Sub dials and their relative scarcity in the Classics section of the Vintage Rolex Forum for those who are looking for the fine details. But suffice to say what seemed like an eye-catching way to differentiate the date model from its traditional no-date brethren, the all-white refs. 5513 and chronometer-rated 5512, would eventually make the Red 1680 one of the most desirable and collectible vintage Rolex Sports models in the pantheon. And when its big brother the cult classic saturation dive-ready ref. 1665 Sea-Dweller debuted with its signature double lines of red for the initial double model name — “Sea-Dweller/Submariner 2000” —  it was only a matter of time for the prime position in the hierarchy for red writing Rolex dials to be cemented in collectors’ psyches. Owning a vintage Red Sub has become the goal of many enthusiasts of the brand and fans of tool watches in general, both novice and expert.


Rolex also had another idea for the 1680 Sub in mind, that of a super exclusive all-gold stunner along the lines of their elite gold GMT-Master, which existed from the very debut of the GMT line back in the mid 1950s. But Rolex had never made a gold Submariner — until they did so in stunning fashion with the debut of a gold 1680 to go along with its more workaday all-steel version. With a list price about five times that of its steel sister when purchased on its heavy 18 karat Oyster Fliplock bracelet with diver’s extension, the Gold Sub was immediately a status symbol of great impact.


With their beautiful “Nipple” markers borrowed from the GMT, the gold 1680 was initially produced in extremely small numbers with a meters-first depth rating just like the initial run of steel models. Continue reading

Notable passings: RIP Marcello Pisani, 1956-2015

The Vintage Rolex world has lost a titan — the great Marcello Pisani has passed away. The legendary Italian collector and veritable encyclopedia of arcane Rolex knowledge made his mark with his unparalleled research into special issue watches such as COMEX and British Military-issued Submariners. His willingness to share what he’d learned with his fellow collectors great and small really set him apart and made him the go-to guy for technical and historic questions, as well as pinpointing those all-important identifiers of authenticity.

I first encountered Marcello about a decade ago as I began my obsession with Vintage Rolex. Through private emails and public interactions on the vital Vintage Rolex Forum I can honestly say that I learned more from Marci than from any other source. More importantly perhaps, I learned what questions should be asked and how to go about researching the puzzles that presented themselves, many of which have now been solved thanks in no small part to M. Pisani. To say he was a mentor to me is a great understatement and yet it’s absolutely a fact that I was but one star in a veritable constellation of questing collectors helped by Marci. So you can multiply his edifying influence on me a thousandfold to get a rough idea as to how many lives he influenced and how much knowledge he shared.

It’s true that in recent years we fell out somewhat, mainly due to our disagreements over the meaning of the appearance of the Underline on Rolex dials circa 1963. Continue reading

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — May selection, Pt. III

Closing out the merry month of May with another classic diver, this one a 1970s Scubapro 500. Sold by the legendary diving equipment manufacturer, the Scubapro 500 has become an icon to vintage dive watch enthusiasts. And this is a very fine and honest one-owner example with desirable automatic movement, lovely Mint original dial, unpolished case and original matte black elapsed-time insert with Tritium triangle secured in the big, chunky unidirectional ratcheting bezel.


Overall, this classic diver shows use but is in Very Good to Excellent vintage condition with just the right amount of tool watch WABI. And its robust ETA 2784 automatic movement with quickset date has just been completely overhauled, giving you peace of mind and years’ more faithful service.


An unmistakably masculine look with plenty of wrist presence and tremendous build quality, the Scubapro 500 makes a rugged and stylish companion for all of life’s adventures. In fact it’s such a cool watch that I’m sorely tempted to keep it for myself — so grab this great vintage diver before I change my mind.


Check out the full ad with many more high-res pics and complete description over at Timezone.com’s Sales Corner. SOLD 

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — May selection, Pt. I

What better way to kick off May than with a special selection of cool vintage watches! First up, as I mentioned briefly in my previous post on affordable vintage Divers, the highly regarded Swiss brand Fortis was one of the many manufacturers to utilize the iconic big size twin crown Super Compressor case in the 1960s & 70s. And with their classic Marinemaster they did it in a most innovative way: they added an actual dive table printed on the dial in highly legible red and white to be used in conjunction with the inner rotating bezel. With this ingenious calibration a diver could now calculate his safe intervals for surfacing and resting based on how long and how far down he had gone right there on his wrist!


Now, you can find reissue Marinemasters made from NOS parts with Luminova dials and hands all day long. But finding the genuine vintage article from the 1970s with Tritium luminous in unpolished condition and correct crosshatch crowns? Well, that’s something else again. Best of all, this Fortis Marinemaster has just been fully serviced and is ready for years more of enjoyment for its new owner. No, it doesn’t quite fall into the “bargain” diver category. But it’s really not that expensive relative to how hard it is to find an all-original Marinemaster. Some things in life are so cool they’re definitely worth stretching a little for.


Check out the full ad for this mega-cool Marinemaster with complete description and many more pictures over at Timezone.com’s Sales Corner.  SOLD