Tag Archives: Watches

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.

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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 — 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 — 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

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.

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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?).

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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.

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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

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.

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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

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — September selection

On offer this month is this wonderful consignment piece, a beautiful and rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Triple Date full calendar automatic. One of the earliest of these model 25807STs produced circa 1996 and still mounted on its original long bracelet with butterfly clasp, this neo-vintage AP ROO is unique not only because of the complications but also due to is size. Whereas nearly all Offshores are 44mm or larger, this Triple Date model measures only around 40mm across to the crown guards and 37mm across the bezel. That means you don’t have to have a wrist like an NBA power forward to pull it off.

APROOTriple-angl copy

Featuring the tank-like construction that you’d expect from an Offshore with those cool visible gaskets, this all steel midsize version has the very highly regarded Jaeger-LeCoultre derived automatic Triple Date caliber 2127/2827 purring away under the hood. It was recently fully overhauled in May of 2014 so the new owner will know it’s good to go for years to come and comes with the documentation to prove it.

APROOTriple-bk copy

No safe queen, this AP ROO is decidedly unpolished, charmingly showing its nearly 20 years of consistent use, and suits the collector who simply wants to strap on his watch and get out amongst it, no babying required. Of course, with all that untouched metal a fresh polish would also look great if that’s what’s desired — it really depends upon personal aesthetics and AP do a killer job of refinishing if that’s the choice you make.

APROOTriple-crwn2 copy

With a minty Tritium dial highlighted by the Royal Oak’s patented “grand tapisserie” (aka “waffle iron”) gullioché finish in stunning triple calendar layout this is a robust, super cool but not gigantic Sports watch you won’t see on many other wrists. And with legendary Audemars Piguet style and quality, you’re guaranteed to make an impact wherever you go while wearing this beautiful timepiece. Priced attractively for such an elite piece, I don’t think it’ll last. Grab it while you can and join the Royal Oak Offshore club!

Check out the full ad with many more pictures and complete description & condition report over at Timezone.com’s TZ Showcase.  SOLD 

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — November selection

This chilly November I’m offering one of the cult brands of the modern watch world, a big honking Panerai. But not just any Panerai: this is a PAM 305 Luminor 1950 Submersible in Titanium with in-house 3-day automatic movement featuring date and independent hour hand complications, plus the new non-screw strap change system.

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Making it even more out of the ordinary, my consignor has had this 47mm beast professionally DLC-coated by the renowned International Watch Works to give it custom ultra-black beauty looks exceedingly similar to the coveted PAM 508 black ceramic but at a fraction of the price. It comes complete with triple boxes, booklets, tools and extra strap, although the Tropic-style factory rubber that it currently sports is the perfect match in my opinion.

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For the guy who likes a bigger watch with terrific Tool-watch characteristics — super water proof, rotating elapsed time bezel, super luminous military-style dial & hands, stealthy black appearance, that oh-so-cool levered crown guard design — this customized Panerai PAM 305 Luminor Submersible ticks all the boxes. Plus, you will certainly get noticed at the bar with this macho negro machine on your wrist!

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