It looks the part!

I said I’d Post on some new watches just the other day, but didn’t really expect to feature another one of these!

This is the Infantry Chrono-Pilot and I have to admit it looks way above it’s price point.  Does that make sense?
To clarify – it looks great! It really does and on the wrist is pretty awesome, which is surprising for a watch that measures across about 46 mm (without the crown) and pretty thick at 16 mm.
But Infantry have done it again and have fitted a very soft flexible silicon band to standardish 24 mm  spring bars.  The result – it fits very snuggly even to my average wrist and at the same time looks rather impressive.

Infantry Chrono-Pilot with soft Silicon buckle strap

On the dial, which is nicely arranged, there is a lower digital window showing the Time, Day and Month (selectable).  Using the pushers you can also dial up Stopwatch and Alarm.  The Day of the week is shown all the time on the small sub dial between 10 & 11 using digital segmented markers, with Sunday in red at the top, going round to Saturday at about 11 on the small dial.
The dial also features a standard analog Hour hand, Minute hand and a running Seconds hand (in orange) AND I’m glad to report that Infantry have at last featured some luminosity, albeit just to the main Hour and Minute hands.

Infantry Chrono-Pilot on the wrist

There is also another digital window opposite the 2, which has a mobile segmental style counter of sorts – I say of sorts as I have to discover exactly what it represents.  The square segment markers don’t seem to run in any identifiable order, though I suspect they should count 10 seconds in sequence, but they don’t – maybe a glitch just on this particular watch.  However, it makes no difference to me as I never use these anyway.  Note this could be an inherent weakness of the module used.  After all this is a brand new watch and something I have never, ever experienced on a Casio, Timex or Citizen model – unless long past it’s prime and very vintage.  This digital display also shows AM/PM and Alarm ON/OFF and it might also have a Chime indication.  Unfortunately it’s hard to know as these indications are almost unreadable, as they’re too small and lack contrast or clarity to be of much use – a design error perhaps that those mainstream Brands mentioned would simply not do.

However the main bits are fine – at a glance I can see the Time, both analog and digital, the Day of the week and without pressing any buttons or pushers – so that’s good.  The watch overall is pretty easy to see and read, the dial remarkably uncluttered, the outer 60 marked bezel clicks one way and is still a handy basic time indication, say for a parking meter (sometimes simple is good).

So after all that, what does it cost?  Well it’s around £20 and if it goes as well as the old square Infantry model I got as a gift a couple of years ago, it’s not at all bad.  It also has a decent build quality, nice materials and excellent finish.

If you ask me if it matches up to the likes of the Casio or Timex low price point models, then my answer is – probably not.  But let’s be clear – we are looking at a watch that costs no more than your average snack for two during your lunch break. . . . .

At the end of the day it is what it is and there’s no question that it really does look the part – and would I wear it?

Re-straped using my favorite silicon deployment type – easier on the wrist.

Well I got it just the other day and it’s still on my wrist – so Yes is the answer.  And if you ask – Did I change the strap for a silicon deployment type – you know me too well!

Ps – The segment issue – Do I bother to send it back to Amazon?- it is new and it has a Guarantee.  If it was DOA then I certainly would, but as the main functions are just fine, £20 is not a problem – I’ll stand it. . . . . .

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Swatches

Every so often I like to trawl the swatch world, just to see what low price models take my fancy.  I like Swatch as the quality is invariably at a decent level as to ensure a good and reliable timepiece. Their quartz models in my opinion are almost always good value and more often that not, great fun to wear.  Slightly funky colour-ways mean that if you are even a tiny bit dress conscious , then these can make a rather neat and subtle statement that you ain’t finished yet!

Unisex Colour the Sky Swatch model Quartz.

This is the GS124 or the Swatch Unisex “Colour my Sky” quartz model – available for anywhere between £30 and £40 and OK is a basic 3 hand model without Day or Date, but has got lots of colour, both dial and strap. Dimensions just 34 mm x 8.75 mm depth, this is a very neat watch and will fit anyone. (and don’t be thinking this is too small – some of the best Patek’s are 34 mm!).

It is what it is and that of course defines the ever so quirky Swatch range.  The back has the usual coin screw battery access and the case is sort of see-through plastic and the dial layout works pretty well with the slight odd hands set up. In fact this one has a touch of the old “railway” clock look about it and is pretty easy to read.

I like it.

My next Swatch pick is the oddly named “Lonely Desert” (Day & Date) model (SUOB721) which is I suppose more gents that Unisex, though that said, is not a large watch either at 41 mm diameter by 9.85 mm depth, so still a neat wearing model.  Price wise not a lot more than the first watch featured, but has the advantage of the Day and Date window.

Swatch Gents “Lonely Desert” Quartz.

I like this one as it features a leather strap in a really neat shade of “leather brown” that works well with the dark case. The dial is silvered and the Day and Date window stands out really well with white letters against a black background.  This is a slightly more serious watch model than the colour sky idea and looks really good either in casual or in a formal setting.

The usual coin battery access at the back –

Typical Swatch coin battery access.

Here’s a pic of the typical Swatch battery hatch system.

So just a couple of models from the huge Swatch range that caught my eye, both very affordable, Quartz powered and yet quite different.

I have to admit to a liking for quite a few of the Swatch Day and Date watches as they really do represent great value for money, especially when coupled to a quality standard that seems to stand up proudly on it’s own merit.

I have a few friends who collect Swatches (sad I know . . .) and I reckon most of us know someone who probably has more than one and I suppose it must be gratifying to Swatch themselves as the “S” or second “Watch” idea (Swatch) has turned out to be such a success story.

I’ll probably feature a few more of the ones that I like – and you never know, you might like the odd one too.

 

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.

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 importance 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 sprung action or the fastening clip with 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”)

Colour Swatch

Every so often I feel I want to brighten up my watch wardrobe, especially if I’m out for dinner and maybe even dressed for the occasion.  Something that maybe we don’t do often enough these days and certainly something I don’t do enough, being retired.  Years of going to the day job, dressed up, tends to make one “dress down” when in retirement and maybe even to forget the odd shave – very remiss.

What to wear?  Well this will do nicely ‘cos it’ll go with anything . . . .

But with age comes a certain freedom, where that silly old soul can wear an outrageous bow tie with a blazer or have an overly elaborate walking cane (never had one before, but what the heck!).  Maybe you can make some amazing, amusing or cutting comment that could well be in the category of – “You can’t say that!” – that’s awful . . . . !  And get away with it.

And so it is with the choice of watch on your wrist, which neatly brings me to this model – the Swatch “Rounds & Squares” SUON122.

Swatch “Rounds & Squares” model – for geeks.

An ultra modernist Quartz in silicon, plastic, with an abstract style with a blue case and multi-colour strap and an every colour dial.   The ultra lightweight case will manage a 3bar Water Resistance, so should withstand the odd glass of bubbly thrown at it, or even if the wearer might accidentally (or was he pushed?) fall in the pool.  Now OK the watch survivability might be around 50%, which oddly enough is probablyabout the same (or better) as the old wearer  . . .
It has a center seconds hand and a neat little screw (coin) hatch at the back to access the battery and the strap as seen here is just fab’ and amazingly flexible.
Did I just use the F word?  Goodness, is that sad or what . . . .  I mean I was old when they started using that!

Coin battery entry hatch – easy fit even for me!

Anyway as watches go it’s a pretty decent size at 41 mm diameter and commendably just under 10 mm thick, AND it’s plastic, but without the over size silly “ooh is that a watch then?” look, a style that frankly has lost it’s charm for me – but this is different AND it looks good!

Yes this Swiss offering actually looks great – it’s bright, it’s colourful and OK, perhaps a little OTT (did I mention the second hand is “pastel blue?) but despite all that unbelievably I can think of lots of old guy eccentric clothing to go with it.  I’ll look some out later . . . .

So being in a sort of dark mood the other day, I went and bought it, sad I know, but that’s what happens when faced with a hypnotic strap such as this.

How could you do it, I hear you ask?

Swatch that goes with – everything!

Well it was like this.  I spotted it when having lunch with a friend – a friend who is an Ex geek.  I know the ex idea seems bizarre but there he was, wearing believe it or not one of those ghastly Hawaii style Miami Vice era multi-colour, but long sleeved, shirts (the rest of his attire was no less incongruous – long shorts and hiking boots – and this is March in Scotland!).

Anyway it happened as my companion asked him the time and as a result I sort of did a double take, as my ex geek pal pulled up his shirt cuff and looked at this continuation of his – “shirt”?

But NO – he was actually looking at his nice new Swatch watch, which was virtually indistinguishable from his  riotously bright outfit, in almost every way!  And as I say – I was hooked . . . . . It was a lousy day, wet, dark and utterly miserable and there he was – a riot of colour, watch and all!

Well when I got home I looked it up, loved the colour, price OK and ordered one on the spot – and would you believe it – I was already starting to feel much brighter myself.

It came directly from Swatch in tick tock land, so took a couple of days.

Now perhaps it’s a cheap (relatively) and definitely cheerful watch of course, but it’s also absolutely a bit of fun to wear and it will do me nicely, oh yes, it’ll do me just fine.

Square Blancpain?

Yes it is square or almost so and 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 Anton 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 overall I’m pleased 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?  Or maybe my skepticism is clouding reality and these actually the reverse of the dot markers positions on the dial.  If you look closely at the markers they don’t seem just “applied” markers, but look to me as if they are punched through the dial itself.

So maybe after all this is me being too Sherlock Holmesy, but this sort of thing does makes you question – because if these marks had no connection to the watch, could it be the movement or dial a case of fitting what’s available at the time.  And oddly enough there may not be anything actually wrong with that. Remember it’s 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”.
At the end of the day unless a watch is manufactured in-house completely by the Brand Maker, then almost by default the watch will be an amalgam of different parts, combined to form a finished item.  And nothing wrong in that (look at a car for example, which comprises bits from all sorts of manufacturers, then badged collectively).

As I say – not easy and when you come across a watch you like the look of – you do have to consider everything you see – but within reason.  However after close examination I think I’ve got myself a very nice and genuine example of quite a 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.