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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, August is surely winding down to a close. But there’s still time for one more cool vintage watch to be offered up for your sartorial pleasure. It’s another classic 1960s Omega Semaster De Ville, this time the yin to the black dialed version’s yang with a stunning original silver sunburst dial in top Near Mint condition.
Again unpolished and again all original, this timeless De Ville “unishell” is running strong and is pure class on the wrist. And heck, if you buy both this one and his black sibling you’ll have an instant, Mad Men-style wrist wardrobe just like that! Not too shabby, Alonso.
Summer may be gradually winding down but the good oscillations keep on coming with stylish and affordable vintage watches just waiting to make their way on to your wrist. Just in, this drop dead gorgeous Omega Seamaster De Ville from the late 1960s, real Mad Men material if I dare say so. What makes this fine vintage dress Omega a bit better than the rest is the beautiful original Near Mint gloss black dial.
During this period Omega simply didn’t produce many dress models with black dials — they’re almost all silver or white. So finding a survivor with its original black lacquer dial in such great shape is a real coup for Omega aficionados. There’s even a hint of tropical brown peeking through under bright light.
With a classic front loading “unishell” all-steel case in unpolished condition, this De Ville is a versatile and durable stunner. And with the redoubtable in-house Omega automatic caliber 552 under the hood you’ve got accurate timekeeping covered too. So whether you’re headed to pitch a new client or out for cocktails with that special someone, you’re guaranteed to arrive in impressive style.
As a souvenir from my recent holiday in Sweden I managed to take home this brilliantly well-preserved vintage Omega Constellation from the early 1960s. While its classic gold-capped “dog leg” or “grasshopper”-lugged case in unpolished condition is awfully nice, the real star of the the show is the amazingly flawless and Mint original non-luminous dial.
The dials of this era were prone to spotting or “pimpling” as they aged, which is certainly not the end of the world in vintage watch. But to find an example that has made it through its 50+ years without this defect is pretty remarkable.
Additionally, Omega’s movements by this point in their history are really some of the best mass-produced calibers in horology history. The 24-jewel, Adjusted to 5 Positions & Temperature, Chronometer-rated cal. 551 under the hood of this reference 167.005 Constellation is certainly no exception.
All in all, a special piece for the discerning collector at a fair price befitting its outstanding overall quality. Better jump on it quickly!
OK, I’ve left it late in January but I have two great vintage Omega divers on offer that deserve special mention. The first is that evergreen dive watch classic, the big and bold PloProf 600 meter.
With its massive 55mm wide x 44mm long asymmetrical case, idiosyncratic but purposeful crown left design and ingenious red bezel-lock button, the PloProf looks unlike any other watch. It was originally created for professional deep sea divers and the great Jacques Cousteau himself was known to favor it. And if you’ve got the wrist and bold temperament for this big blue behemoth you too can become a member of the storied PloProf club.
The second Omega diver I’ve got falls more into the cult classic category: A 1970 f300 120 meter Chronometer with the Accutron-derived tuning fork movement humming away under the hood.
This is a rare variation with non-integrated bracelet case, so unlike with most of these Omega tuning fork divers you can affix a conventional strap or bracelet, a big plus in my opinion. If not quite as big as the PloProf this all-steel f300 diver is a wonderfully robust 41mm wide and features a beautiful two-tone silver “bullseye” dial. Better yet, it’s just gone on sale.
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 →
If you hang around with watch collectors for any length of time you are guaranteed to hear the word “Grail” mentioned and probably more than once. I don’t know who coined this term for a particularly desirable watch (maybe the late, great Chuck Maddox?) but it has come to be the word of choice for that certain timepiece which most captivates us at a given moment and inspires an obsessive quest to obtain it. Which is not to say that a particular Grail watch remains a constant. On the contrary, the more driven collectors (guilty as charged) will constantly shift their definition of Holy Grail and apply it to multiple watches, especially as their tastes evolve and they wade ever deeper into the seemingly bottomless waters of the watch world.
It might happen that a beginning collector getting into vintage starts out with a particularly handsome Omega dress watch as his Grail but finds himself being attracted to the legendary Speedmaster chronograph line. So, having acquired his lovely dress Omega, he shifts his Grail designation over to the yet-to-be-acquired Speedy Moonwatch. Then, having acquired a conventional Speedmaster, he may learn through research and participation in the various forums about earlier, scarcer versions that were being used at the beginning of the NASA space program and before the design was completely standardized. And so with his classic Moonwatch acquiring mere “daily driver” status, now a pre-Moon straight lug cal. 321 Speedy becomes his new Grail.
Likewise, a budding Military Watch collector may start out feeling very well satisfied with a Benrus Type I or II, no small achievement to be sure. But soon enough, through discussion with other enthusiasts, a hierarchy of MilWatches is revealed to him and he discovers that his well-loved Benrus Type, while highly regarded, is nowhere near the top of the pyramid. Continue reading →
The word “rare” gets thrown around a lot when folks are pitching vintage watches. But this circa 1952 Omega Seamaster definitely fits the definition: Jumbo 36mm case (90% are 34mm during this era), rare reference that is extremely hard to find (2521), solid 18 karat pink gold with screwed water resistant case, and Chronometer-certified movement and original signed “waffle” dial (very uncommon for a 1950s Seamaster, as almost all the Chronometers for Omega during this era are in the Constellation line). Run these attributes through the Google and you won’t find many matches. In fact, I’ve yet to see another 2521 in pink gold. So not an inexpensive watch by any means. But, as the old saying goes, find me another.