Copper Bulova vintage

I’ve always liked copper dials and this vintage 1940’s Bulova “Squadron” is no exception.  14ct Rolled Gold case with factory copper tone dial and a signed manual wind Bulova Calibre 8AE Bulova movement, which is relatively uncommon, with semi-hooded lugs, is a very neat watch by any standards.  The leather beige Laco strap is a nice quality replacement, which suits the overall colour of this ensemble and has just perfect and acceptable wear, looks great on the wrist and is very comfortable to wear.

Bulova vintage copper tone dial

Nice to see an original copper tone dial in such good condition. Note the markers are a combination of raised silver tone markers and indents.  The watch overall is in decent condition with very few scratches on the case and the back is a tight “snap” fit which is always nice.  The case is solid 14ct and appears to be Rolled Rose Gold and the movement winds and runs smoothly, keeping excellent time.

I bought this at auction at a very keen hammer price of just £70.00, which has to be a bargain.  It begs the question why anyone would buy a watch at retail today.  Use common sense and there is no doubt you can still pick up great watches, with some great style (sadly lacking today) at sensible and realistic prices.

This watch is by no means modern, but the movement is working as good as it was when made.  It’s mechanical, so never needs a battery, it’s easy to reset the time for Summer time and so on, the date change is also easy at the half crown position for some of the months – in short it is very easy to live with.

In the same auction I also found a very nice 20 year old quartz mid size in absolute mint condition, at a fraction of it’s new price, though my Wife has snaffled it for herself.  I don’t blame her as it is one very smart looking watch.

So happy auction days recently, which I have to say is really unusual, especially as over this last year I have been banging on about how poor and how expensive auctions are becoming today.  And in general they are unfortunately and I’m sure will come back to bite those selling agents, with fewer successful sales.

But regardless of all that doom and gloom, for me this was a shot in the arm, though caution is the key word.  Today, I am VERY careful at auctions and I never get carried away, especially with the high auction costs, which increase every time you blink!

And whilst Buyer beware has never been a more true statement, this week proves that you can still manage to purchase a bargain as I’ve recently seen one very similar for nearly £300!

Edox bargain

The very reliable Pesseux 7001 mechanical movement used occasionally by the likes of Blancpain and others, was so well regarded that it wasn’t long before the ETA 7001 appeared (bought by ETA).  Started off life in 1971 with 17 jewels, 21,600 vph, non hacking, with a 42 hour reserve and very thin, was a great favourite with all sorts of Brands and Edox liked them for some of their Les Bemonts models.

Edox 2008 Les Bemonts manual wind Dress watch.

This is the unusual rectangular Les Bemonts model circa 2008 from Edox.

A well sized model at 34 mm wide and nearly 45 mm lug to lug and only 7.9 mm depth, shows just how thin this ETA7001 hand wind movement allows neat case design.  The crystal is flat Sapphire, the dial features a sub seconds dial and gold and white background with gold hands, Edox “hourglass” logo and Swiss Made at the foot.

The case is stainless steel, gold plated with an exhibition back with part cutout to view the 7001 movement.  The watch is Water Resistant to 5Bar.  The 22 mm lug measured strap is high quality leather fitted to an Edox deployment (with extensions) mechanism, which is one of the most comfortable I’ve worn as it lies very flat on the wrist.

Great on the wrist Edox with excellent Edox deployment strap.

This particular watch was purchased in 2008 in Holland and according to the retail slip was €899 (Euros) and it the recent Auction I managed to get it for just £130.

Exhibition stainless back showing the ETA 7001 movement.

Now considering this watch has obviously not been worn, comes with box, attached watch protection stickers, instruction booklet, plus being in absolute pristine condition, no marks scuffs or anything other than showroom condition, I reckon this is indeed a bargain – so I’m well pleased.

Do I need what is after all a relatively modern watch like this? – well yes I do actually as I’ve found a new niche in collecting and that’s great “dress” watches that I can wear – and this is certainly one of them.
A great price for  what is a pretty decent hi-grade ETA movement, Sapphire crystal, elegant design case and dial, plus a great fit on the wrist, for just over £100 – I think that’s a good deal.
Probably one the good reasons for visiting Auctions and especially IF you can manage at a fair price for you.  It can offset the quite extortionate “fees” that Auction Houses are applying these days – one of my gripes I know, but I’m going to keep going on about it.

Let’s face it many Auction houses would be in severe decline if it were not for the Internet – as it draws in a huge number of potential buyers – maybe they need to recognize this and give Internet bidders a discount for taking the trouble to visit their auction and bid, rather than try to screw more cash out of us all.

You never know it could be a winning idea, for the Auction house as well as the web punter.

Square Blancpain?


Yes here was I thinking that Blancpain produced only round case watches.  I checked around however and with some difficulty it has to be said I did find an image example in my old No 30 Edition Gilbert, Engle & Schugart  “Complete Price Guide to Watches” on page 677 right at the foot of the page, an image of almost the very same model.  It too has hooded lugs, though shown complete rather than the part hooded ones of my version.

Gilbert, Engle 2010 Watch Catalogue – illustration of vintage Blancpain model

However the dial is exactly the same, stick hands dot markers and the tiny sub-dial seconds, plus the 4 cardinal numerals.  The glass is unscratched and domed and the solid 14k Gold case is in great condition.  A degree of re-finish is evident and why not as this watch is from around the 1940-45 era.  The strap is not a Blancpain but a modern Italian leather Rosario 18 mm that looks just fine.  As always with any watch I collect – it has to be worn on the wrist regularly and Rosario straps are always comfortable.

Blancpain vintage rectangular c 1945

The movement which is in superb condition is signed Blancpain 17 jewel unadjusted with the Rayville SA import mark clearly shown (KXO).  I’m not sure if Blancpain even made their own movements in this period and the movement looks very similar to an A. Schild.  It does look as if it could be related to the AS 970 for example, though I’m no expert on these and there were so many AS movement variations, I can’t definitely put a number to it, but they were of very decent quality for the period.

1940s Blancpain signed 17 jewel – perhaps Anton Schild.

The case has been cleaned up at some point in the past, but the Case Maker marks show up clearly to be Katz & Ogush Inc of New York, who were registered in 17th January 1921, and denotes the 14k Gold motif.  K&O had two different motifs – the other was simply plain text with their initials, so this is a nice bonus for me as I have a thing about Watch Case Maker marks.

Katz & Ogush Case Maker for Blancpain c 1945

When I first saw the images on Auction I thought perhaps this was a Ladies model, but the watch overall size at 26 mm x 35 mm lug to lug, is definitely for a Gent.
It was also produced at the time when the “formed” watch style was coming in to fashion, as they moved away from the traditional round pocket watch style of earlier times.  Of all the shapes around at the time and into the fifties, the square and rectangular became the most popular and are still with us today.

So to say I was pleased in an understatement – I am delighted with my vintage find this month.
It’s not often you find a rectangular Blancpain and movement wise it is in great condition, the case is clearly marked with a known Case Maker and it’s in good condition – it also keeps excellent time which is another bonus.

The question of absolute original condition and refinished condition always comes up when collecting vintage watches.  It is a fact that to find watches in “perfect” condition of this age is becoming almost impossible now.  More often than not the watch is in various stages of poor condition, corroded movements, spotted dials, mechanical damage, scratches and dents and certainly not looking at all as it was when made.  The question you have to ask is – Do I want it looking like that?  And in my case – Do I want to wear it?

Personally as a “wearing” watch collector, I prefer the watch to look more or less as it was.  And I don’t mean completely refinished in such a way as to look false, but rather cleaned up sympathetically, basically to show the attributes of the original watch.
I also don’t mean to replace everything on it, but where possible to refurbish the existing elements to best advantage.

Rectangular 14k Gold Blancpain c1945

The only time I would tend to accept the absolute original, would be for very much older pieces, such as a few pre -1900 models.  I have some and these 1800’s models are about as original as you can get and “as found” and are the only watches I own that I don’t wear.

They are (unfortunately) for display purposes only.  I suppose I got these when I first started collecting and had this exciting “purist” idea, but I soon found that firstly it was a VERY expensive and perhaps over-optimistic collecting idea.  Secondly I realized that wearing watches was my real passion so had to revise my strategy and not look too far back – and of course it’s cheaper!

But for me, more fun . . . . .

NoteOne of the problems with vintage watches is the degree of uncertainty when checking them out.  You have to be a bit of a detective and maybe a skeptic too, which is a pity.  It would be so nice to accept things at face value, but that would be unrealistic.
There are some things on this model that could make you wonder, one of which is evidence of machine holes/marks on the rear of the dial.  Are they related to the fitted movement and dial?  Well yes they are in this case and are actually the reverse of the dot marker positions on the dial.  If you look closely at the markers they are not just “applied” markers, but are in fact punched “through” the dial itself. And that’s about as permanent as you can get.

So maybe after all this is me being too Sherlock Holmesy, but this sort of thing does makes you question – But as I say happily every aspect of this case and dial was perfectly consistent with the watch.  Though had they not been you have to remember it was the middle/end period of the 2nd World war, watch cases and parts may not have been easy to get and to assemble a complete watch might well involve a certain degree of “mix and match”.

I might have to go along with the fact it may – and I say may – have had a very light and sympathetic dial refurbishment and that is absolutely fine by me – in fact I love it.

So after close examination I think I’ve got myself a really nice and genuine example of a rather rare watch – AND I can wear it – so I’m happy.

Conquest quartz

One of the nice things I like about Longines, is their trick of producing high quality watches at affordable prices.  And that’s what we’ve got here with this vintage Auction find for under a £100.  I say value for money as I spotted a pre-owned one, co-incidentally just the other day from a Retailer, for £450 and this one is in far better condition.

Very neat Longines Conquest quartz Date watch – c 1992?

This is the Longines 1992-4 Conquest Date model in stainless steel, with the Longines L1.614.4 ETA quartz movement.  Slipped into a sleek well finished stainless case that’s only at around 5.5 mm thick is what I call neat.  In fact the entire watch is neat at just around 33.6 mm in diameter.  This version has an original Longines French made leather strap, with the proprietary Longines deployment clasp with twin button release.  Note this is a bespoke strap as it has to fit the lug case design with the centre cut out.  I also noted when searching this model on Google, it’s actually rare indeed to find a strapped version, as almost every one I’ve seen comes fitted to the Longines bracelet.

Neat Longines with 5.6mm thick stainless case & original deployment fitting.

Anyway this watch is in pretty much perfect condition with no marks or scratches at all (I hasten to add that the images shown are as I bought it, uncleaned), the crystal is perfect and there are no intrusion marks on the back, which is also pristine.  The fact there are no intervention marks is a real bonus, as so often ex Auction pieces have had a few over zealous buyers poking around them with their penknives! (something that really annoys me!).
The strap is not frayed but is a little oily with some accumulation of crud from been worn perhaps 24/7 by the previous owner, so a bit of simple cleaning is needed.

Original Longines deployment fit – with quick release adjuster.

I would note the Longines Deployment Clasp does have not your typical friction fit clamp adjustment.  It is more subtle than that.  To alter the fit length simply means you have to push in one of the pushers (it’s marked with a little arrow) which allows the small push-button assembly to lift out.  Once out, simply re-position the deployment over the strap hole you want, then pop it back in – job done.

Now whilst I am a great believer in deployment clasps and this Longines one is rather a good one, on this model it just seems unnecessary.  Basically as this is such a neat, super thin and almost delicate watch.   So I’m of a mind to go back to basics and fit a standard Longines buckle instead.  Fortunately I have an original stainless one of the correct size (18 mm) sitting in my spares drawer which will be ideal.
Note – now fitted with photograph at Post end.

Uncleaned as yet, but showing no scratches or marks – perfect!

So an excellent Auction buy, and whilst it may be for a Quartz everyday watch, it is a high quality one and great value.  Longines watches are still and always have been undervalued in my opinion, which fortunately makes them a good choice when looking for a pre-owned watch.  And I mean this for both quartz and mechanical models.  Part of the reason is that they are not sold at inflated prices and even new they represent good value as the quality is really good and the closer you get to one, the better they look.

Looks good on the wrist at just under 34 mm diameter.

This particular model is from the early 1990s and as good today as when it was made and I have to say there is a certain “comfortable quality” about it.  What I mean is it’s just that everything about the watch feels right.  The smoothness of the case finish, the rounded non sharp edges, the elegantly designed dial, subtle luminous markers and hands.  In fact the case has a softness about it that appeals to me or perhaps it’s just that the watch has worn well, in every sense of the word.
As for today’s fashion I suppose the model can be considered unisex owing to it’s small size, so certainly a good choice if out present hunting and on a budget.  Of course that’s always assuming the receiver of the gift doesn’t mind pre-owned.

OK not like it was an old dirty pre-owned Patek Philippe, but it’s the thought that counts – right?

Longines stainless buckle alternative to deployment.

Auction vintage Gruen

Managed to get to a watch auction the other day and purchased this nice 1929 vintage Ladies Gruen model in 14ct white filled Gold.

Ladies 1929 vintage Gruen 14ct White Gold Filled - Auction find.

Ladies 1929 vintage Gruen 14ct White Gold Filled – Auction find.

Gruen02True Art Deco example with excellent condition enamel and engraved case by Wadsworth (14ct with reinforced extra Gold).  A signed 15 jewel movement with 4 adjustments with Gruen Guild Switzerland markings. The dial is in good condition and the movement keeps very good time indeed.

Original strap and slide clasp.

Original strap and slide clasp.

15 Jewels 4 adjustments (Serial No. obscured for this image)

15 Jewels 4 adjustments
(Serial No. obscured for this image)

No signs of corrosion within the movement.  The original ribbon strap and slide/clip clasp was too short for my Wife, so I replaced the strap with a high quality German leather 11 mm wide taper spring open/end strap which is ideal.  I have of course kept the original fittings as I hope to obtain a ribbon replacement soon. However the practicality of the new replacement strap will probably suit my Wife’s needs better at this time.

I always get a real kick out of finding very old watches that are still in amazing condition, with movements working just as efficiently as they did when first manufactured.  It is a true testament to the wonders of the clockwork watch movement, which will probably outlast any of the quartz or digital efforts around today.

Original 1929 set.

Original 1929 set.

This Gruen watch does keep amazing time and note the adjuster is still in it’s central position which is quite unusual I have to say after all this time.

I like the fact this watch was looked after properly and bears the signatures marks of quite a few Servicings – always a bonus when considering watches of this age.  So there’s no reason to doubt that it will keep going long after we’ve gone ( morbid I know), but what can you get these days for such a small outlay that can give you such service?

Not a lot – I can tell you – not a lot.

J P Journe ( just perfect? )

The creations of J P Journe are some of the finest you will ever see and this from a man that some think should be called a Supplier rather than a brand in his own right.

J P Journe - masterpiece of design

J P Journe – masterpiece of design

This because he assembles his watches from parts he has some 40 suppliers manufacture and finish to his exacting  specifications.  In house these are assembled, adjusted and tested.  The watch dials are the start of any new model – he designs it first and then has the inner workings made to work the dial as it were, which is highly unusual.
I think personally the detractors are missing the point as J P Journe models are really something to be treasured and admired.  And as such you don’t see them too often coming up as pre-owned and for sale or auction . . .

Maverick? –

For JP to infer that the global watch timing authority COSC is out of touch and hardly a challenge because he says the standards are too low being originally designed for pocket watches and somewhat meaningless for today’s wrist watches – are the words of a man very confident in himself and his product.  He describes them as Chronometers without being COSC certificated and regardless of his critics.  This must have upset the heavyweight movers and shakers of the industry somewhat – and who knows, maybe it needed or indeed needs such a challenge every once in a while to retain it’s relevancy.

I have been fortunate enough to have seen a few of his models close up and in my hand so to speak – and for me they are utterly brilliant.  So when one comes up for auction you can bet that I and a good few more folks beside, will be very interested indeed.  I have added such a one to the Auction News page with a note of the estimate and will be very interested in the final hammer price.  Detractors or not I see it doing rather well.

The model is the Octa Calendrier.

It’s a Cal.1300 Automatic with 22ct Gold Rotor in an 18ct Rose Gold 38mm diameter case – just like this one – and there’s not many of these around.  I think in 2007 it cost  around £16,000 perhaps?

See the actual watch which is in the Auction HERE


Auctions – full of surprises!

Well it was one of those days where you manage to do what you said you’d never do – and that’s impulse bidding at an auction.  I mean there you are zeroing in on that little vintage model you’ve been after for ages, the estimate is £80 to £140 and you’ve got the cash in your pocket and Bam!  the bids suddenly thick and fast between 5 or 6 phone lines and the internet goes cosmic, through the roof and so far above your budget that you feel really quite inadequate – out of your league.  And before you know it, your day, full of expectations that it was, is no more.   Gone in a flash of someone else’s money and your item well out of reach.

Then, would you believe it and before you can even go off for a shell-shocked sulk and a cup of coffee, the next item’s up and, Hello? one that you’d never even noticed, such was your tunnel vision towards the previous one – and suddenly there’s this absolute gem – it’s there – right in front of you. . . .Gerald02xc

Wow – I’ve been looking for any one of HIS – for ages!  And the estimate is what?  That’s not too bad you know – just maybe I could wing it and swing it!  Then you think – oh oh, what’s wrong with it?  Maybe it’s a “come and buy me” estimate to lead you on . . But no time to check it out . .  . damn . . . .

Nothing much said in the description and that estimate seems awfully low, so big decision – do I take the chance?

And looking around I don’t see that anybody else has actually spotted it either – after all I didn’t, sandwiched as it was between the big boys or should I say the big name boys, because that’s what the Dealers here were obviously snapping up – to resell at  inflated big City prices to their retail suited pals.   You know the usual Omega (there are soooo many of the darned things), the Rolex’s (are they really that good?) and then Tag and the Muller – you get my drift.  But this one is just, well, sitting there, almost hidden by the weight of the buzz names – so maybe . . . just maybe . . . .

Sod it! – I’ll have a go – what’s to lose?

Well the first bid is just plain silly, derisory really and after that it basically just creeps up.   This in itself can be deceiving as it could suddenly take off, but sometimes, just sometimes it bombs and often without a reserve somebody gets themselves a real bargain.  And that’s my hope here.  So wary of that possibility I quickly jump in don’t I – I mean it’s the obvious thing to do – because – you never know . . . and then, bid, bid, bid and before you know it – it’s all over and the auctioneer is looking at the buyer, saying SOLD to . . . . . and I’m looking around me like an idiot – SOLD to – as I catch his eye – Yes! it is – Moi!   Yours truly  – as I fumble with my auction “paddle” which was stuck in my jacket, ripping the pocket as I struggled to get hold of it and hold it up!

Wow!  This is just so brilliant.  I’ve just paid …..HOW MUCH? ( I can still hear the echo from my Wife’s shriek!) for something NOT on the menu – and the lot number, whatever it was is off the large screen and the auction is going on without me.  Is this a dream or what?  And was that my bank manager smirking as he turned away at the back of the auction house – I’m sure it was . . . . I never knew he even went to auctions . . .!

Anyway – it was no dream and you might just wonder what on earth I bought after all this excitement.  Well here’s a clue or two . . . .

The watch was designed and signed by a guy who was perhaps one the best designers of watches – ever.   In 1966 he designed the Universal Geneve Golden shadow range of watches, then in 1972 designed the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and in 1976 the Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, then cases and dials of the Omega’s Constellation and Seamaster watches.  So quite a pedigree!  He also contributed to the designs for the Ingéneur, The Pasha Cartier and the 222 Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Chopard, and so on and on . . . .

He had his own Watch Company from 1981 till 1998 and another from 2001 under a different name.   All his watch models are quirky, unique and novel, very technical and high specification and often quite expensive.  Octagonal cases he particularly liked and played around with, even producing a Mickey Mouse model or two just for fun.

My model was from 1995 so bang in the middle of his best production period – and it’s actually quite rare!  There’s only a handful been sold at auctions in the last 10 years and this one changed hands twice before it got to me.  In fact apparently not many were produced, so is very much a limited model.   So I better check this out – now in my hand.

OK, the watch goes as soon as it’s touched – always a good sign.  The quick date pusher works perfectly – OK.  Oh oh – the alarm stem is and feels completely disconnected, so no rotation of the alarm disc, winding or setting- OK?  BUT – maybe I don’t understand how to set the alarm.  Often these watches have a sequence to follow to move the alarm set pointer – so I’ll have to investigate further before passing judgment.  The case is in very good condition – a tiny dint in the sapphire glass – OK,  a screw missing from the stainless steel back (should be six only 5) – OK and the original leather strap (with tolerable wear) and deployment is for a large wrist – OK.  Soo it all looks fixable . . . . . .Phew!

So after all that – here are a few images of my impulse buy.

Gerald Genta Bartolomeo Stainless Automatic Alarm Calendar.

Gerald Genta Bartolomeo
Stainless Automatic Alarm Calendar.

Bartolomeo 40mm diameter Alarm on the wrist

Bartolomeo 40mm diameter Alarm on the wrist

So this is a Gerald Genta Bartolomeo Alarm Calendar watch with slate dial, gold filled numerals and markers, gold hour, minute and seconds hands plus a GG logo in gold on the red tipped Alarm pointer.

The Alarm function is by a central rotating disk and operated  and set by the secondary capped 3 position Crown at between 1 & 2 o’clock.

The watch has an automatic Omega Cal.980 movement so no winding required.  The time is set by the main capped Crown at 3 o’clock.  A Date aperture is between 3 & 4 o’clock and there is a quick set date adjuster just below the 2 o’clock position on a raised Crown mount in the form of a small pusher.

The dial indicators are luminous filled (perhaps Tritium) and the gold colored bezel is secured with 4 screws.  The crystal is sapphire and slightly domed.  The watch case appears to be stainless steel as is the back with 6 securing screws and serial & model details inscribed plus the Gerald Genta logo.   The Gerald Genta original T bar leather strap has a signed stainless steel double deployment clasp and the watch diameter is around 40mm ex. crowns.

A point to note is the case materials used are not known.   I’m unable to find detailed information on this model, so whether stainless, gilt or solid gold, the case and bezel materials are a bit of a mystery.  Without metal marks I assume a stainless steel case and unknown bezel.   However and whatever, the price I paid is still a pleasant surprise.   The very few previous auction sales I’ve seen for this model have been considerably higher, though metal specification obviously a factor.   But I’m pretty happy and a bit of a bargain considering it’s quite a rare model, so I’m really pleased with my impulse buy!

Gerald Genta watches are an iconic brand and to actually have one is an unexpected surprise and a pleasure – and my Wife has forgiven me since she set eyes on it – she liked it as much as I do.