I consider myself a true vintage watch guy so it’s not often that I offer a modern watch… but when I do it’s a stunner. And so it is to start February with this amazing Vacheron Constantin Overseas “Deep Stream” Automatic. This gorgeous and avant-garde discontinued modern classic comes as a full set with complete boxes, open papers & VC passport, tags, USB stick user’s manual and two great straps — classy crocodile and sporty rubber.
This limited production Deep Stream version of the second generation Overseas line from the storied house of Vacheron is characterized by a sunburst finished anthracite gray dial that changes tone in different light & a sexy titanium bezel that contrasts with the 42mm stainless steel case. The dial also has handsome stylized white gold quarter-Arabics, as well as sword and dagger-style hands, both of which feature strong Super Luminova luminous elements. Along with its 150 meters of water resistance that makes this a genuine tool watch, albeit an extraordinarily elegant and distinctive one, suitable for either a day’s fishing or a proper yacht race.
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.
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.
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.
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.
90% if the time I am a 100% vintage watch guy. They have the vibe and design qualities of days gone by that usually make them much more appealing than their shiny modern counterparts. But once in a while I give in to that new watch temptation and fall for something the manufacturers are offering today. The Rolex Milgauss GV is definitely one of those that turned my head and won my ardent affection.
Like a lot of marques in recent years, Rolex has very cleverly paid homage to designs from their storied past while giving them a modern interpretation, as well as all the technological upgrades available in this era. One of the most successful of these “heritage” pieces is the newest iteration of their famous Milgauss line. Dating back to the mid-1950s, the golden age of Tool Watch innovation, the Milgauss was originally designed to stand up to the large magnetic fields being generated by nuclear and other emerging technologies in the Post War era. This specially designed anti-magnetic timepiece could stand highly magnetic environments of up to 1000 gauss, hence the name, and it was marketed to scientists and technicians whose watches would normally be severely disrupted by such high levels of magnetism. Apparently this watch-buying segment was perceived as significant enough to lead to a plethora of anti-magnetic watches being created, as not just the Milgauss but also IWC’s Ingenieur and Omega’s original Railmaster made their debuts around this time.
Original 1956 ref. 6541 Milguass (Image from Antiquorum)
Despite or perhaps because of the emergence of those competitors, the market was never very strong for the original lightning-hand Milgauss. But Rolex kept with it and redesigned the watch in the middle to late 1960s. With a cleaner, more conventional design, the new 1019 Milgauss seemed a more versatile wristwatch for the professional man of science, while still retaining it’s antimagnetic powers through the continued use of the Faraday cage design. Again, though, the Milgauss line was a poor seller in the overall Rolex catalogue, probably due to its rather specific purpose and slightly premium price over a standard dress model, as well as its then-large 38mm size and thick case. With demand for mechanical watches lagging overall, Rolex discontinued the Milgauss by the early 1980s.
Ref. 1019 with rare double-signed Tiffany Dial (Image from AQ)
However, as with so many of the “unpopular” Rolex of their time — such as the original Explorer II, the Tru-Beat, even the Cosmograph Daytona — their very lack of success and smaller production redounded to their later success once they had been removed from the catalog. Continue reading →