Copper Bulova vintage

I’ve always liked copper dials and this vintage Bulova is no exception.  14ct Rolled Gold case with copper dial and a signed manual wind Calibre 8AE Bulova movement with fancy lugs is a very neat watch by any standards.  The leather beige Laco strap obviously is a replacement, but it suits the overall color of this ensemble and although has some wear is perfectly acceptable, looks good on the wrist and is comfortable to wear.

Bulova vintage copper dial

Nice to see a copper dial in such good condition. The watch overall is also 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 Rolled Gold and the movement winds and runs very 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!

Buyer beware has never been a more true statement, but this week I’m happy.

Digital delights

There’s something about early digital watches that really attracts me, mostly because they can look so interesting.  Often full of complications and with amazing dial designs, which for me is possibly the most important aspect of these creations.  How to display the most relevant information or data to the user, without causing confusion – and still make the function of it, or the “user interface” as they say today, both easy to read, understand and also intuitive to use.

Not an easy task.

Here are a few that for me manage that task pretty well.

Early Citizen D060 Winsurfer, Timex (later) T49976 Expedition, Early Citizen D100 Promaster Windsurfer

And yes they are all quartz, battery powered and every so often you have to change the battery – it can be daunting, though once you get the hang of the user logic, these ones are actually easy to manage.  Sometimes there are printed highlight notes on the module reminding you to short out this or that, or push all buttons prior to setting up and so on, though that’s basically to clear memory ans rarely affects the basic time function.
Any time a battery needs changing – it’s – clear the desk workspace – take care and concentrate.  But seeing the display come to life again and then scrolling through the various functions and reminding yourself just what these modules can do, is always a pleasure.

Casio 931 – BGP-20 Multi-Planner,
Casio 928 DW-7200 Pentagraph Referee Timer

Casio vintage Alarm Chrono, had tough times but still good!

With a reasonable collection of digitals from the late 1970’s onwards, you can see the dial contrast improvements and the creation of more intuitive commands, to manage this or that function, though I’m still bowled over by some of the early ones and realize just how good they are.

I’m not going to go through the functions and so on, but rather just show here a small photo gallery of some of the ones I’ve collected over the years.  The dials say it all really and there are many more, many covering all sorts of sports and pastimes, but increasingly difficult to find these in really good condition.  They are not expensive and as a result tend to get worn “hard”, often not surviving.  Often as not, if the module goes, so does the watch – into the trash, which is a pity as they are a testament to the ingenuity of the first Quartz sports watch pioneers.

Many are Japan made and although there are many, many lookalike digitals around from China, none of them have the pedigree of these or indeed the quality of the Japanese modules and displays, which in their day, were truly science fiction, and particularly in the actual design.

Rare watches today as they represent a time of change and great innovation and ridiculously accurate for their time too, which is a real bonus.  Usually wherever I go when wearing one of these, people comment and mostly they are rather impressed.  Not bad after some 40+ years of plastic/resin molding, early display technology and large battery styles – I take my hat off to them – great!

Note – I have probably featured these somewhere in the web site at some time as a Post. For more information, just use search.

Vintage Vulcain

Vintage watches are still my passion and perhaps more so today than ever, simply because many are from an age where “style” and “elegance” were as important as the watch function itself.  And I have to admit I like that.

Neat but good sized Ladies 1920’s 18K Vulcain manual wind in original condition

This example is a 1920’s Ladies 18ct Gold Vulcain which has survived in very good condition and is being worn today, keeping good time and looking as elegant as when it was made.  I guess it was produced just after WW1 when Vulcain moved to their new factory, so possibly around 1923 or so, once the new premises was fully up and running.

This model is a bit of a rarity with this case shape, though checking through the Vulcain “Book” I found this very similar model from around 1930.  Note the early Vulcain logo in a simple font without underlining etc.

1930’s Vulcain with diamond decoration – from the Vulcain “book”.

Another reference I found is from the  Watch Book – “Wristwatches – A Handbook and Price Guide” 6th Edition of Gisbert L. Brunner & Christian Pfeiffer-Belli, printed by Schiffer, which although listed as anonymous, could indeed be a Vulcain such is the similarity.

Similar cased & dial look of the 1920’s

My Vulcain 18K Gold cased is also complimented by the expandable bracelet (marked DV, which denotes a Vulcain parts or accessory) which suits it perfectly with no degradation to the spring action or the fastening clip and safety chain.  (note the Trademark DV with the V on top shown is prior to the rectangular form, which appeared in 1934).

Original Vulcain accessories (DV) 18k Gold expandable bracelet

The case back is numbered and hinged with a snap closure and the movement is in very good condition considering this watch is not water resistant.

Vulcain of course is a very old established Watch Company formed back in 1858 and still producing high quality watches today.  Famous amongst other things for producing the 1st practical mechanical Alarm watch, the Cricket” – which could be heard over 30 metres away and operated without disturbing the time keeping of the watch, both features thought impossible. After many years of research it finally was introduced commercially in 1947.

So all in all very pleased with this purchase as once again it is relatively rare, both in shape and style and is in excellent running condition.  What’s more it appears that the original bracelet is attached and the watch has obviously been kept for special occasions as it has worn exceptionally well over the best part of the last 100 years.

The last image shows a Gents Vulcain from around the same vintage, again with the original Vulcain logo on the dial and very similar font applications on the dial.  Note too the hands and dial colour are virtually identical, which were obviously the parts of choice at this period.

I’ll keep a look out for this particular Gents model and if it comes up at any time – I’ll be very interested in adding it to my collection.  You never know!

Gents 18ct Gold 1925 model (Illustration – from the Vulcain “Book”)

Square Blancpain?

A 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 be 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.

Rare Ladies Movado Day Date Calendar

I like this neat and rather rare 1949/50’s Ladies Movado Day and pointer Date calendar complication model I picked up in Auction recently.

Movado 3 letter Day & Date pointer Calendar index model - 15 Jewel - Ladies

Movado 3 letter Day & Date pointer Calendar index model – 15 Jewel – Ladies

Dated around 1950 maybe it has a 15 jewel manual wind Movado signed movement and a very neat layout dial with a three letter Day window @12, a red tipped Date Pointer with calendar perimeter index, with direct pin side calendar adjusters in addition to the main crown.  The very solid looking square case is stainless steel and measures just 12 mm wide with a slightly domed crystal.  The case is stainless steel and the back is a tight snap fit.  The black leather strap is a standard 8mm fit, so easily interchangeable if needed, though this one is virtually new and recently fitted.

Movado Case data

Movado Case data

This watch is in decent condition with few signs of wear at all except for one tiny ding on the back, which actually is of no consequence.  The important thing for me about buying any of these small complication watches is the mechanics.  Do they work?  In this case there is a 3 letter Day wheel and a Date Pointer, both of which require setting – and on this model they do.

Movado direct adjust Day and Date apertures.

Movado direct adjust Day and Date apertures.

The problem with Auctions is that anybody and his dog have access to fiddle with the items (I’ve seen people open watches, get screwdrivers out and start poking inside – I kid you not!) and whilst the Auction House may indicate in their Condition Report that it winds and appears to run, that’s usually about it.

It is very definitely up to you to ensure it and for this model, that the complications work.

This Movado is a manual wind and has two tiny little pin adjusting holes on the left side, positioned at about 7 and 10 on the outside of the case.  These adjust the Day and the Date independently of the Crown which simply alters the hour and minute hands (the time).
As said fortunately they work on my one, though once I’d had a close look inside I found one of the adjusters was bent out of position.  If left in that condition it could mean that inserting a pin could easily slide past the adjuster and stab the movement in it’s vitals!  Not good at all . . .
The adjuster levers in this model are side sprung, to enable them to move and line up with the internal case apertures and the pin holes.  So I re-centered them and set them into the correct position.  Now if you insert a pin to adjust, it will hit the adjuster dead centre and operate the mechanism as it should.

Movado 15 jewel Day & Date pointer Calendar movement

Movado 15 jewel Day & Date pointer Calendar movement

So a word of warning when you meet a model with pin hole adjusters.  Have a real careful look to see and/or feel the adjuster, before stabbing it harder and harder!  Get it wrong and you can easily damage the movement.

NOTEif you check out the image of the movement above you might just make out the adjusters at the bottom of the image (in the shadow – sorry) – on the underside of the M of Movado and the C of Factories. There are 2 levers which move side to side, sprung – but straighten these and they fit nicely into the case apertures and pin holes.

These ones both work as they should, so adjusting the time, Day and Date is easy.  In fact easier than many modern complication efforts – and amazingly it’s all contained in a very small movement within a small 17mm x 12mm case.

Movado Ladies Day & Date Calendar index model. Circa 1950

Movado Ladies Day & Date Calendar index model. Circa 1950

Yet to get hold of my Wife to get a wrist shot, but when I do, I’ll add it here at the end . . . . after this shot of it lying on my office desk.

Note Oh as usual – if you don’t know, if you click on any image you should get an enlargement . . . . .

Lord Elgin articulated – 1947 vintage

My second Auction purchase is this 1947 vintage Lord Elgin model.  A 3 position adjusted 21 jewel Cal. 670 manual wind movement which is fully signed and working beautifully, keeping excellent time.  Not bad for a watch that’s 70 years old.

Lord Elgin 1947/50 21 jewel articulated Gants watch

Lord Elgin 1947/50 21 jewel articulated Gents watch

This model has articulated lugs, a feature I’ve always admired (in fact I have a few modern watches with this) and these are particularly nice.  The dial here is Cognac coloured with black Roman numerals and a subsidiary Seconds dial, with gold hands.  The Swiss Made script I expected at the foot of the dial is hidden and actually covered over by a coloured slick of paint, so I assume this dial has been refinished at some point in it’s life – the paint used maybe to protect the Swiss text.  Whatever, it was very well done and as the dial is really good I’m certainly not about to fiddle around with it.  It is what it is . . . .

Neat articulated lugs, snap fit back in A1 condition.

Neat articulated lugs, snap fit back in A1 condition.

The case is in great condition, 14K Gold Filled and no marks or rubbing at all.  The back is similar and is a very definite snap fit.  The high domed glass is perfect and overall the watch looks great. The strap is an after market leather one which is absolutely fine and obviously new.  I like the upper and lower case decoration, it’s nicely figured and well done and lifts the watch somewhat from the more usual square faced models I’ve seen.lordelginback2

The watch dimensions are 22 mm wide and with the hinged lug design it means the lug to lug is nearly 46 mm, so when on the wrist this watch looks perfect for today.  On the wrist it looks bigger than you would think.

On the wrist looks bigger than it is owing to the extended hinged lug arrangement.

On the wrist looks bigger than it is owing to the extended hinged lug arrangement.

I’ve always liked Lord Elgin and in fact Elgin watches in general as they were very well priced in their day, affordable and great value for money.  And in saying this, it is gratifying to see that you can pick up a model today such as this for under £40 at auction, which when you consider the style and the fact that this watch works well, is accurate, doesn’t need a battery, looks good and has already lasted 70 years or so – it really can’t be bad!

One of the reasons perhaps why I buy vintage watches.  The other is that I like the look of them.  They often have a style and elegance that seems to be missing from the majority of models offered these days AND of course I wear them.  They are not solely confined to a display cabinet or box, because I wear them all in rotation and they all must function.  I mean that’s what they were made for in the first place and never intended as inanimate objects, but real-time recorders of time.
I have in my collection a few models that I suppose are true vintage in that they are pre’ 1900 and I always make a point of wearing them often, despite the fact that shock suppression wasn’t the best if there at all.
Let’s face it, it didn’t stop people wearing them then, so why should it now?  I usually find in these really old models a certain mechanical quality that’s often so good, that a well looked after watch that’s been around maybe 100/150+ years or so hardly diminishes at all – and I like that!