an interactive roundup of interesting watches on the market
Diving straight in, Nat is back this week and with a watches from semi-defunct department stores no less. Here is what he fancied:
If you’re going to go vintage, go vintage. And it doesn’t get much more vintage than a Longines military issue watch from WWII. The Majetek watches are known for being given to the then Czechoslovakian military and being produced by three different manufactures: Eterna, Lemania, and Longines. Longines released a pretty faithful heritage version of the Majetek a few years back. But, in true Longines heritage fashion, it included a date window at six, either to differentiate it from its ancestral originator or to remind us that there is suffering in the universe. Maybe both. But, if you want the real deal, there is currently one for sale on Rolex forums, here: http://www.rolexforums.com/showthread.php?t=487508 It had a price drop on August 7th, and the DOW is up 51 points as of me typing, so there isn’t a better time to buy. The pocket-watch movement, serial number, movement and caseback signatures (inside and out) all add up to it being original, or at least period-correct. Of course, with any forum sale, be sure to ask lots of questions and do your own research on the watch unless you are already intimately familiar. For a little extra reading on the Majetek, check out these links:
Speedmaster is a pretty iconic name in the watch world. It is usually followed by something adding to its prestige, such as “moonwatch” for example. Now, “reduced” really doesn’t have the same gravitas as “moonwatch” or “professional” and I wouldn’t exactly want “reduced” following my name on a business card, but it is a speedy nonetheless. It is different from its chrono brethren in other ways than its moniker. It has a 39mm case, an automatic movement, Omega’s 1140 and later the 3220 (which I’m sure look an awful lot like some ETA movements), and a much different dial with the sub registers spread out in comparison to its lunar counterparts. At first glance you may not notice the difference, but compare the two and it is pretty obvious. This is a result of the automatic movement, and not just a design choice. Now, being introduced in 1989, these did not have tritum dials, but some of them end up with pretty attractive “patina” as seen here (and for a much stronger price), how or why this happens, I cannot tell you.
The other big differentiator for the Reduced is, you guessed it, the price. They are among the most affordable Speedmasters, especially if you snag this one being sold through Sears. Wait, Sears? Yes, Sears. For about $600 or so what they are usually being sold for, you can grab this Speedmaster Reduced, at a reduced price, from Sears. You can probably snag a Craftsman tablesaw and combine shipping. You will see that Sears is selling it for a watch and jewelry store out of NY, and it’s listed at a higher price on their site. The key to vintage/pre-owned buying is to know the seller, and I think we all know Sears pretty well.
CT: I've taken the approach of listing the very watches that I have on my eBay "watch list" or that I have clicked on and debated firing on myself. In no particular order, here's what caught my eye recently.
King and Grand Seikos kind of a mystery to me. The newer ones still command strong prices, but some vintage examples, like this one, can be had for less than $1k. Everybody knows the Japanese make some quality products and in the case of Grand Seikos, they do so in the most discrete way possible. Make no mistake though, these watches are so nicely finished with every detail just so, as is no accident from the Japanese craftsmen. This particular model with a chunky 36 mm case should wear nicely, and just look at the oversized crown for your hand winding pleasure. The ad states it has been recently service, and at 36,000 Vph, I can only imagine just how slick this thing looks when running. The crystal is stated to be acrylic, which means you might be able to polish out the scratches at 12 o’clock, but that would be a question to ask the seller first. For $890 shipped, I can’t imagine too many watches of higher (understated) quality. http://forums.watchuseek.com/f29/fs-vintage-grand-seiko-4520-8000-a-3448346.html
The Omega Seamster 30 is a watch that I think I will own someday. I just love the simplicity, balance of the dial, great size, and great caliber 286 manual wind movement. The dial on this one is admittedly a bit rough, but I think it works for this watch. It’s from 1962 and the lume is presumably radium based on the lack of “T”’s surrounding the “SWISS MADE” so the white dial is going to be more prone to patina. What’s important to me is that the flaws seem honest for a watch of this age, and it is still attractive to me overall. The overall layout of the dial and those hands just do it for me. The bevels on the lugs are still present and the “MEISTER” signed dial makes it that much more unique. Some companies or retailers of this era would have the dials signed with their brand, Meister in this case, making it slightly more unique. I don’t say “rare” because it doesn’t necessarily add value for me, but it is overall less common and some prefer the added signature. Overall, the text on the dial checks out, right down to that coat hanger “S”. The asking price on this one seems a tiny bit high given the flaws in the dial, but the make an offer button is present, so it never hurts to ask right? $550 asking on eBay here.
This last one I had actually written off at first glance, thinking the hour sub register was redialed with an incorrect hand as well. Until I came across two other like models on @rorowatch ‘s Instagram. Sharing of parts and suppliers in this era was very common, and some of the much smaller brands, like these shared complete models all together – other than the printing on the dial. With that said, this could be chance get a modern-proportioned (38 mm), Valjoux 72 chronograph in excellent condition for a reasonable price. The finishing on this doesn’t appear to rival that of Heuer or the other big names of that era, but all of the elements are present: applied indices, engine-turned sub registers, all stainless case, panda dial, and all in a swiss made package. I think the applied rings around the sub dials are what busy this one up, but overall, it’s still an incredibly clean watch, with an interesting story. Apparently the watch was left at the watchmaker in 1974 and never picked up. So it’s like owning a two year old watch that was stored in a time capsule for the last forty years. Get your monies ready, this one ends on Sunday.