The obscure “Voken”

It seems that Citizen is a very widely tentacled Company and this vintage Voken is perhaps proof of this fact.  Indeed a true Japanese (Tokyo) watch, very simple Japanese movement and a typical 1970/80’s style.  This one is a manual wind, no date, just the time and is in prime condition and has one of the smoothest “sweep” seconds hands I’ve seen in a long time – AND it keeps remarkable time for such a modestly priced watch.

Voken - another Citizen offshoot?

Voken – another Citizen offshoot?

I have seen Voken brand watches before and they seem quite rare today.  They don’t seem to have any particular allegiance to brand movements as I’ve seen Russian USSR movements made by Raketa or Slava and nothing wrong in that as these are pretty strong units in their own right.  I’ve also seen the odd one from Hong Kong (they had a presence there I understand) with Chinese internals.  Made usually for the home and Chinese market it comes as no surprise to see Chinese text along with Russian and also quite often in English.  This particular movement is neither USSR nor Chinese, but seems to be a complete Japanese made item – perhaps a classic in it’s own right.  Miyota I guess.

Blue strap suits this Voken perfectly!

Blue strap suits this Voken perfectly!

When I got this some years ago, it had the most awful brownish, muddy and rough textured strap fitted and looked very dull indeed.  Which is a real shame as the watch actually looks pretty good.  The dial is well made, good hour markers and a cool bluey/violet/purply almost fluorescent colored face.  Nicely shaped clear crystal, resin screw back and a smart shaped case mean it’s worth getting decent strap for it I think.  So keeping with the ethos of the cheap watch I fitted this smart complimentary colored one with matching gold buckle.  I think the color does the whole shebang some justice – so much so that I’m wearing this for the week.

Japanese simplicity = surprisingly accurate watch!

Japanese simplicity = surprisingly accurate watch!

So OK – a cheap, simple little Japanese watch it may be – but in amongst all the wonderful timepieces out there – I really like it. . . . (sad isn’t it?)  😉

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Classic Seamaster (Omega)

Delving into my vintage collection I came across one of my old favourites – the Omega Seamaster.  This particular model is the 1949 collection series steel version with sweep second hand.

Classic Omega Seamaster 2577-6 – Cal351 or 354 – 17 jewel Auto

I particularly like this model as it is about as good as it gets – The serial number dates it to the beginning of 1950 and it has a great condition 351 or more likely the 354 auto mechanical “Bumper” 17 jewel movement inside.  This early bumper rotor is quite rare as it has a fairly short range of perhaps 300 degrees as Omega originally designed.  It has around 36 hours spring reserve which is very commendable.  It is matched nicely by the classic detail of the outside.  Wonderful dial face with hard riveted Gold dagger batons and numerals, (quite difficult to distinguish in the photos, but these are gold colored when seen against the stainless case) – the almost perfect condition “radium” luminous filled hands plus that extra touch of a wonderful “Art deco” red painted sweep second arrowhead hand.  The naturally aged patina of the dial itself give an almost 2-tone effect owing to the dial curve and if you look closely you can see in the center, the Omega embossed logo on the original Hesalite armoured crystal.

Omega 351/354 bumper automatic

The case is stainless steel and in very good condition and the back is very clean screw down original too with apparently a 30m Water Resistance, but I might pass on that!  The crown is the original Logo version and the leather strap a standard Omega 18mm fitting, which completes the whole thing.

Dimension wise it’s a nice 35mm diameter and 42mm lug to lug, so a good size even for today and of course it IS a good choice for any vintage watch collector – there are many versions around at the moment which represent pretty good value as they are a quality and classic watch.  Just shop around for the best quality and finish you can get and you won’t go far wrong.

Benrus vintage

Been to the auctions again after a long spell out of action and picked up a vintage Benrus sculptured case model in 14c Rolled Gold plate.
Always difficult to date these though by the styling alone could be mid 1940 to 1950 period.

Benrus 17j curved back - circa 1945-50

Benrus started off in 1921 in New York and the name was conjured up by one of the founders Benjamin Lazrus using the BEN and the RUS from his name. The other family members were Oscar and Ralph and were Romanian immigrants who set up in New York to offer the new “wristwatch” for everyone and not just the well off.  I understand the trade mark was registered in Switzerland in 1923 and they imported movements and cased them in the USA.

This particular example is a manual wound model with applied gold colored Arabic numerals and a recessed seconds sub-dial @6.  The logo on the dial says “endurable” – other models were “citation” named after a racehorse I believe and the ladies watch called the “embraceable” (It was a one piece bracelet watch which slipped on the wrist).  The “Endurable” title may also refer to the shock protection feature that some of the Benrus models had but I would really be guessing here.  These days Benrus collectors tend to go for their more elaborate styles such as the “Dial-o-Rama”, but this is a nice example showing some early case shaping and fancy lugs which offered an added attraction.

Benrus 17j curved back mans watch fitted to a Radley 10ct bracelet

Showing the stainless steel curved back

The case is a signed USA Benrus manufacture and the movement is a Benrus signed model BA 4 as shown, which looks to me very like a Swiss ETA variety – it also keeps nigh on perfect time for a watch of this period, which is always a bonus.

Swiss made BA 4 Benrus (possible ETA) movement 17j original.

So maybe not the most exciting of watches, but a nice example of the period and the style of the Benrus name.  And their watch range must have been pretty popular as they were for a period the 3rd largest producer of watches in the USA and a very real threat to Hamilton at the time. I will be fitting a strap to it when I get hold of a 16mm brown leather one from my supplier in the near future.  I’ll post an image of at the end of the post when I get it.

Still not an awful lot known about the Company which is quite typical for watch suppliers and manufacturers at this time, but to see these watches appearing every so often in auctions and so on makes me smile.  I mean what sort of items will you see made today that will still be around some 60+ years from now?

Not many I’ll bet!

NOTE – For the known history of the Benrus Watch Co. I can do no better than to point you to “The Watch Guy” web site, where he has an
excellent history of Benrus – CLICK – HERE

Fitted Di-Modell leather strap 16mm