Reposted this article on a vintage Blancpain I picked up at auction some time ago.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is 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.
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 . . . . .
Note – One 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.
This time a nice little retro vintage Citizen –
The Citizen Ana-digi Thermometer Digital Dual Time Vintage JG2012-50E.
Analog + Digital display, Chronograph ( up to 24 hours), 1/100 sec, Alarm, Dual-time zone, Thermometer, Auto-calendar (to year 2099), LED back light, Battery life: 2 – 2.5 years, Water Resistant press fit back).
Dimensions: 42 mm x 34 mm x 8 mm and the weight is 72g, so light on the wrist and a such a nice watch to wear. And it still draws the crowds. It was pushing the boundaries then in the 1970’s (before this retro model) and it still never fails to impress. Lovely!
(Note I have three of the original models which I should Post sometime).
Had to replace the battery the other day (since 2012, so exceeded the spec) which was a SR1120W or 391 and it runs perfectly now – fortunately I still have the instructions to get the analog hands moving – but in the end was super simple actually and took just a few seconds to complete.
When collecting watches it’s often the case that one particular brand is not too well represented and sometimes just for the fact that you never got round to it. And in the case of Bulova that’s probably right in my case, though that said I did have a Bulova Accutron 218 many years ago which I sold on at the time as payment for another model.
However recently I bought an earlier Bulova from 1970 and for no other reason than I particularly liked the rather unusual case and dial layout. Note the luminous infill hour and minute hands, the red seconds sweep hand and the luminous dot markers at each applied minute marker, gives a clearly defined dial (note the luminous material no longer active). I particularly like the different background shades for the Day and the Date wheels, which aids clarity. And of course how could you miss the vertical Day and Date @6 which sets it apart from most watches and if honest the main reason for my purchase. The case is in polished Stainless Steel and oval in shape and whilst I’ve heard it called the UFO case, though maybe a personal observation by an owner and certainly not official, it is in fact quite a rare shape for a Gents model and a very decent size at approximately 37.5 mm wide and 39 mm lug to lug, and as a result it sits well on the wrist.
It also has the Bulova Automatic Swiss 17 jewel movement so is well specified, though from the dial you wouldn’t know it was automatic, as it’s not printed on the dial, the only dial text being the “T -SWISS-T” mark and the large text Bulova name @12. For me however it’s just the combination of all of these factors that I find uniquely interesting.
For more detailed info please refer to my main Post pages – HERE
Wearing this old 1940s Benrus model today in 14ct Rolled Gold.
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 model is a nice example showing some early case shaping and fancy lugs which offered an added attraction when I picked it up at a general Auction for a bargain price in 2011.
Within the USA Case is an excellent condition 17j signed BA4 (Swiss ETA) movement, which ticks along and keeps remarkably good time –
I mean – who needs batteries!
Occasionally I visit Antique Fairs, mostly as an accompaniment to my Wife who’s into Art Deco, so I take the opportunity to seek out any Watch sellers that happen to be there. Today we did just that and I sort of went my way and she hers – but anyway the upshot is that in amongst the rubbishy “house clearance” stuff and quite a few watches that obviously lived their lives in boxes full of old nails (did I say they were crap!) I did come across a guy who actually had some decent stuff.
And his prices were the sort of prices I understand – he’s a watch guy – say no more! and we got on.
Quite a few decent models there from Jaeger LeCoultre to Omega to Rolex and so on, but the one that caught my eye was this lovely super condition Eterna-Matic 2002 from 1973. It simply stood out as the great model it is and as good today as when it was produced. The case is that lovely almost cushion but more Tonneau ’70s style and is in really good condition with no corrosion or plating loss. The excellent mechanical movement is the Calibre 12824 or ETA 2824 automatic date, which beats along at a very smooth 28,800bps. The movement number scribed on the movement as was the Eterna-Matic name, Brevet Swiss (Swiss patented) and the screw back in Stainless Steel 459T grade (don’t think it’s around these days). The movement condition is about as good as it gets, the rotor sweet and smooth and the watch dial is something to be very pleased about. The watch back is a screwed stainless steel with a perfect condition rubber gasket seal with case number engraved.
No corrosion evident – the gold hands and baton markers crisp and clear, the dial’s vertical brushed Gold texture background and wonderfully light contrasting outer index a total delight and all original. Including (and I don’t see this very often, if ever) a fully marked with 5 protruding dots logo Crown which looks really neat and matches the dial logo. The strap is a 19 mm wide non-original Condor in Buffalo Calf which matches up very nicely.
The other point about this watch are the dimensions – it is perfect for me or indeed anybody today despite the penchant for large watches, this just fits perfectly. Approximately 38 mm wide (39 mm including the semi-recessed Crown) by 37 mm lug to lug and the wrist shot is self evident – pretty much perfect.
The watch functions smoothly, the date change crisp and the date wheel is in perfect condition and it is one very accurate movement, as was intended.
Interesting model this as it started off life in 1972 (Eterna have been around sine 1856) and it was with this Eterna-Matic named model that the Company sort of re-introduced itself to the world. It was a bit of a revelation as it was the first watch to wind itself automatically by means of ball bearing – self polishing which reduced friction losses considerably and as a result produced a remarkably accurate automatic movement. They even made Ladies watch with the same set up – and that was something really new.
And so here it is today after 43 years and looking great! – now that has to be quality. And as to value? Well let’s just say that I was VERY pleased . . . .
1949 Longines President Fillmore 11 in a solid hallmarked 14ct gold case with curled and fluted lugs.
Every so often I wear this nicely presented model and it’s design belies it’s dimensions of just 26mm across and 39mm lug to lug, as it looks larger that it is and as it sits so well on the wrist and certainly in a dress situation. A very genuine watch this one as it’s triple signed and about as good as it gets condition wise. It features the Longines Caliber 23z movement which has 17 jewels set in solid gold casings and the timekeeping is spot on and a testament to it’s quality. A 1949 model looking as good as it was when first produced and whilst refinished at some point along the way, the result is a fine looking classic that will easily see me out!
The fine lizard leather strap compliments the Art Deco style of this model and I’m looking forwards to wearing it again soon at a Christmas formal night – so dinner suit, bow tie, cuff links – the lot! And I’m sure this will round off the classic look just perfectly.
A simple and stylish English under-statement of timekeeping – a Smiths Astral gold plate Gents watch from the 1950’s. (re-post from 2010 but what I’m wearing today)
An elegant watch with “Made in England” below the 6 makes it a rarity these days. Produced by the Smiths Watch Company in the 1950’s it shows all the best attributes of English watchmaking.
Lovely blued steel hands on a virtually unmarked clear dial plus a red filled tip center seconds hand and with neat raised numerals – it is quite simply – a classic.
A neat Smiths 17 jewel hack shockproof lever movement is fitted underneath an unmarked well fitting press stainless steel back keeps this watch ticking along nicely.
Sometimes mistaken for a Jaeger LeCoultre movement, whilst it has some technical similarities it has nothing to do with that Company at all. This is a common misconception as the only link with that company was because Robert Lenoir, Smith’s Technical Director was an ex LeCoultre employee.
High quality models were manufactured at Cheltenham mostly whilst the lower market models were produced at Ystradgynlais in Wales in a joint venture with Ingersol. Usually noted by the dial inscription “Gt Britain” or “Made in Britain” – which is quite a useful way of identifying the factory origins of Smiths watches.
So it would appear therefore that this model is not a product of the Anglo-Celtic Watch Co of Wales, but from the Smiths factory at Cheltenham in England.
The Astral model is perhaps not top of the range or as popular as the “Everest” model, but I does represent the absolute classic elegance of a “Made in England” watch to perfection.
This particular movement is ticking along as strong now as when it was new. This one is manual wound and it feels nice and strong when wound and set. Perhaps a fraction slack in the crown setting I admit but simply needs a little tightening on the stem.
The watch is also a nice size at 34mm diameter without crown and 39mm top to bottom with a strap size of 18mm and in consequence wears very well on the wrist.
So this is not a UK assembled watch with a Swiss movement, but rather an English watch built with an English movement too – and in reality a darned good one at that – so a bit unique these days in my opinion. AND as it happens this one is pretty much original and in really superb condition – another plus.
It has received a lot of wrist time since I bought it at auction 4 years ago which is always a good sign as my philosophy on watch collecting is simple – if I get it I must wear it – these watches are for wearing and every watch I own MUST work – that’s what they do best.
Interesting 1941/2 IWC with it’s elegant Calibre 83, 6 bridge-design movement, 14k gold cased Gents watch. After some investigation it is in a 14kt Gold case, possibly supplied to Hungary during the war or produced in Hungary as it shows the Hungarian Assay mark for 14kt Gold (580/1000) – this is a stamped Wolf’s head left facing + the number 4. This stamp is repeated on the right hand top lug exterior.
The watch is in excellent condition both due to it’s age and perhaps also considering the time it may have been produced as there was the WW11 raging across Europe. My detective work will not be fully complete until I can determine the Case Maker/Sponsor mark but it’s certainly very intriguing.
The IWC Cal 83 was produced between 1939 and the early 1940’s and regarded as a transitional movement between the pocket watch and the wrist watch. I also note that this case style has straight sides and straight thin lugs and appears to have some precedent as it is very reminiscent of No 58 and others in IWC’s own 1941/2 Blue Catalog. Within this catalog it is obvious when comparing the models available, that quite a few “mix & match” combinations and dial layouts over this period and indeed the case designs. I might even suspect this to be an IWC case design imported to Hungary for separate metal assessment there and subsequent matching to the movement. But this is still conjecture and as I say – more detective work needed.
Note the Hallmarked 14k gold symbol on the top lug and the large “onion” crown. Gold hands and seconds sub-dial on what may be a very well preserved original dial – as there are a few small spots on the dial background but only noticeable under magnification. The case diameter is just over 32mm so larger than I thought it would be before purchasing, so looks pretty good on my average wrist and not too small as many of that vintage were.
The strap is a high quality water resistant non IWC Hirsch leather 18mm to fixed wire fittings between lugs which were common at the time. No spring bars here and replacements straps must be open ended types to fit. Note the nicely decorated case back interior which has case number, case makers mark, service marks and the 14k gold mark of Hungary. The movement looks in great condition and shows hardly any signs of wear which is always a bonus. Regarding the strap I personally feel the color doesn’t show the watch to best advantage so I’m considering changing this for a black lizard – see last image.
Note – In keeping with the servicing tradition of watchmakers throughout the world there are marks on the inside of the case indicating it was serviced in December 1962 and again in November 1976, which perhaps shows why the movement is in such good condition. (there may be an earlier one but it’s too indistinct to read). Considering manufacturers of these mechanical watches tended to recommend servicing every 3 years I suppose it’s not too bad!
One of my favorite old models that was a familiar sight in the UK in the mid 1970’s is this lovely condition Sekonda from around perhaps 1969-1970 which has the sturdy 17 jewels 2609 Raketa manual mechanical wind movement. Probably made in the Petrodworzowy watch factory near St Petersburg and used in the Zim, Pobeda, Poljot and others at the time. Sekonda brought these Raketa and other Russian movements into the UK in the 1970’s right up till the 1990’s when they switched to Asian. The 2609 was made in various models and refinements over the next 20 years or so I understand. This one is USSR signed and an absolute delight to wear.
Rather accurate I have to say and the dial clarity leaves many a modern watch to shame. I remember I got this at a watch auction a few years ago for a very cheap price and I simply wouldn’t part with it now as it is just so typical of the time.
This is a nice example of a Gruen Veri-Thin from the watch company that is probably US in origin, though Swiss tie ins were well established, which is why Gruen managed to survive the Depression better than many US home watch makers. Note this is a Veri-Thin with a hyphen which denotes post 1930 (pre-1930 were written as Verithin) and this particular one is from the early 1940’s period. The movement is a Swiss 21 Jewel signed Cal.330 manual wind movement and contained in a 10ct Gold filled Wadsworth case.
It sits very flat on the wrist owing to the clever Veri-Thin construction, which required the movement calibre to be thicker in the center and thinner on the outside edges. The dial is heavily curved and yet the magic of the Veri-Thin design means that the watch looks extremely flat and thin when viewed from the side.
This is an analog/digital combo from Pulsar dated around the mid 1980’s. An unusual model perhaps and fortunately I have the movement data which explains how it works (no watch instructions survived).
Set to display a dual time role here, though normal display settings are in rotation Time, Calendar and Alarm set time. An odd movement one could say in that after any battery change the system has to be reset to indicate properly. Beside the battery there is a small hole into which you must insert a thin metal rod of some sort to “short” the battery to the lower plate, then you can replace the watch back and set up the digital display accordingly. The crown has 3 positions – IN as shown if rotated with show each setting in turn – Time, Calendar and Alarm. Position 2 allows you to set each of these functions depending on which you are on – in other words if normally indicating the Time – pull to position 2 and rotating the crown will adjust the Time. If normally on Calendar, position 2 will set the Calendar and so on.
The movement is the now obsolete Hattori Y960A and it seems not many have survived today and they are difficult to obtain if a replacement required.
One of the nicest watches to wear is this 1948 9ct gold TREBEX, with it’s superb overhung centre sweep second hand, which is one of the most elegant I can remember ever seeing on any watch.
The watch is 34.5mm diameter which is quite large for the period and had what was termed then as “fancy lugs”. The hand wound mechanical movement is an A S Schild 17 jewel calibre 1351 and runs perfectly and in fact a very good time keeper. Fitted to a green lizard strap with gold buckle it is often to be seen on my wrist of an evening.
Lifted this model out from it’s display case as it needed wearing for this week – one of my favorite watches. My Jaeger-LeCoultre solid 18ct Rose Gold from around 1949-1952 era in perfect condition.
Oyster colored dial with applied gold markers, with an inner ring showing Arabic numbers at 3, 9 and 12, with gold dagger hands, sub second dial and acrylic glass, it’s in pretty much perfect condition and keeps remarkable time. I’m looking forward to this week as it always gives me a boost when I strap on such an elegant but understated watch. Jaeger-LeCoultre rarely let me down with their dress models and I’m always on the lookout for more. Mind you I will take it off when I’m chain sawing later today! Then have the pleasure of strapping it on again for dinner!
I’ll really have to get a life!
Picked this model up recently at auction as a nice example of a “Rolex” Tudor model from around 1947 (there is a dedication inside the case dated 1948) which has a solid 9ct Yellow Gold “cushion” case. I replaced the old cracked and worn strap with a new 18mm Lizard strap from Condor.
The dial is original and also pretty dirty having aged in line with its years and needs a clean, but it winds and sets very smoothly and keeps quite remarkable time. The black steel hands and sub-dial seconds hand are unmarked and no hand scoring marks on the dial either which is always good. The batons and numerals are quite finely detailed and the dial is signed with the Tudor Rose & shield @ 12.
Cleaning the dial on older vintage watches always takes a bit of care as it’s all too easy to remove the printed numerals, so a gentle approach is needed. I’ve no wish to re-do the dial as personally I prefer the original to a modern revamp if at all possible. So a gentle cleaning is all I need to do and removing any obvious debris and so on, should make a considerable difference to the look of the watch – without compromising it’s originality.
In contrast the movement is a high grade signed 17 jewel Tudor Swiss ETA which is in excellent and clean condition. The case itself is in average condition (could do with a light polish) I would say and although the back has some denting, I’m sure I can push those out without much trouble.
The movement + crown stem sits within the case base – being removed from the top of the case and the bezel and glass part “snaps” on top to close the watch. On this one it is also a perfect snap fit- again a good sign.
This is quite a small model common for the period at approximately 30mm across including the crown and only 9mm depth so would easily suit a lady or small wrist gent (like me) today. Interestingly the fact the dedication is from a lady to a man suggests this was more then likely a gents’ watch and not a ladies model.
Tudor watches were introduced by Rolex from 1946 and named such by Hans Wilsdorf who wanted to honour the Tudor period in England with this range of more affordable watches. They differed from the Rolex mainstream models usually only in the movement used. Tudor tended to be Swiss ETA movements with additional specification requirements ordered by Rolex and then signed Tudor. However quite a few Rolex’s models also used bought in ETA movements at the time, so in many cases the differences were minimal.
So all in all a nice quality vintage watch, untouched and original, rarely serviced and yet amazingly accurate. It makes you wonder if you should touch it at all!
Update – Sold on early 2015 – no profit no loss, so someone else can enjoy it.
There’s something about the Dugena watches that I have always liked. They seem to have a style all of their own. This one is no exception.
This is the Dugena Precision model from the 1950’s perhaps ’60’s which is as good as I can date it by appearance. 20 micron Gold plated case with a fabulous golden textured sunburst dial and Louis XV style hands certainly give it some presence. Swiss movement is incredibly smooth and a very good timekeeper indeed. The case is brushed gold finish though the rest of the case is gloss gold and has some of the neatest, shortest lugs I’ve see. It is also a very thin watch at just over 7mm and a delight to wear. As it is so thin I suspect a Pessaux or similar Swiss movement. It’s one of those models that if not worn for some time, then spotted in the cabinet and planned to be worn for that day – is on for at least a week! every time.
Always have a soft spot for solid silver watches of a certain period. This one a lovely example of a 1930 Vertex. Perfect art Deco design and features a 15 jewel unsigned manual wind movement.
I wear it quite often on formal occasions just because it wears so well.
That’s the thing about Art Deco – it’s a style that just has to be worn or displayed and this model although not the most expensive watch is one of the most perfectly elegant.
Absolute classic – the Omega Seamaster Automatic.
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.
At 35mm diameter it also has a nice weight to it and like many of these “classic” watches it is the most comfortable watch to actually wear. The stainless steel case also has that rounded smooth feel to it, not hard edged as some modern watches seem to favor. I particularly love the red arrow tipped seconds sweep hand as it travels around the two toned perfect patina dial face with the still intact “radium” filled luminous hands.
Pretty good after 63 years and probably my favorite Omega model (I have a few) – it is just such an honest watch with such absolute quality too – and it runs so smoothly that it makes me feel great just wearing it and these days, what more can you ask?
Classic Longines 9ct gold filled dress watch. 17 jewel Cal 284 mechanical hand wind movement, signed Longines and dated around 1970/1. In very good condition and one of the first Longines I bought at auction. Neat size at 34mm diameter and only 9mm depth it makes for a nice occasion watch.
Always liked the clean look of a Longines dress watch and you can pick one of these up for quite a reasonable price today at Watch auctions. Does make you wonder why you entertain a new watch I suppose.
Great that you can buy quality this cheap. But you can!