an interactive roundup of interesting watches on the market.
It’s the last weekend before Labor Day, and for those clinging to the last bit of summer we are rounding up dive watches.
It’s no secret that I love super compressors. They exude vintage tool watch functionality and quirky cool styling. The dual cross hatched crowns signaling the EPSA super compressor case that actually got more water tight the deeper you dove, bulge out from the case in the best way possible. I love the internal bezels and the dial and abundant lume on the indices and hands of these make them very cool, including bonus points for the lollipop second hand. Super Compressors have always had a cult following of sorts and are seeing a bit of a surge as of recent, but being that they all shared the same case, the various manufacturers did a lot with the dials to differentiate their offerings. These Hamilton can usually be had for $1200 - $1500 when they come up, just be sure to look for lume loss, reluming, and any water seepage or dial degradation. This particular seller is one that I have exchanged messages and emails with many times, and though we have never done a deal, I think it’s fairly safe to say he’s one of the good guys. Kent is offering this Hamilton Aquadate for $1300, and can be reached via his Instagram: @sliceoftime_
This next one is in a category that I always thought was cool, but was never really for me until recently. I do a lot of camping in the summer to escape the Phoenix heat, and we’ve been doing more river canyon hikes with swimming along the way. My go to camping watch is my Caravelle 666 diver, and because nearly everything I own is vintage, I end up bare wristed on these hikes. I recently started considering what modern day dive watches would make for a good companion; not too expensive that you’re worried about actually swimming with it and banging it around the camp, but still mechanical with good water resistance. The Oris 65 is one of those such watches. A relatively affordable mechanical watch, especially considering what you’re getting, with a fantastic dial, just look at the reveal cut lume for the numerals. The font is true to the original Oris divers and is pure vintage goodness. These come in a variety of dial and strap/bracelet configurations, and this one just works. 100 meter water resistance in a 40 mm stainless case with a great big crown and an true to form Tropic strap. For under $900 on WUS Forums, what’s not to like?
With a 37mm case that is sure to wear larger, this Seamaster 120 appears to be in pretty good condition. The photos are poor but all of the font on the dial looks correct and consistent, and the lume looks to all be present and an even patina. The 120 was kind of the friendly and in many senses more practical brother of the Seamaster 300 with its slimmer case that sacrificed a bit of depth rating. These are pure 70’s tool watches at their best, and I would also say that many 70’s watches are still maybe not necessarily flying under the radar but trading under their worth and they will have their day in the sun soon. The Caliber 565 automatic movement should be pretty straight forward to service, and service you should, as it does look like there is evidence of rotor rub on the inside of the caseback. A slightly earlier reference recently sold on Hodinkee for $2200, and I would argue this one is more desirable without the date cluttering the dial. I do have a slight suspicion that the hands might be replacements, but this watch did come in many different slight variants over the course of its life, so it’s tough to tell. I can't decide if they all came from a mark series speedmaster or if the hour and minute were painted and the spear tip sweep seconds came from a Speedmaster, or I have seen a few of the "big blue" Seamaster 120's with this spear seconds hand. With a current price under $400 with 3 days to go in the auction, I would think if you can get this one for $1200 or less, you’re in good shape; certainly looking really good at under $1000, especially if you have a watchmaker with replacement hands since it needs a service anyways.
My last pick is another one that oozes vintage style, and from a vintage diver, that’s exactly what I want. This Zenith Defy has A LOT going for it too. Starting with the atypical case, this one still has all its facets, which is very important since these often got polished into big metal lumps. The big signed crown is correct and appears original as well. Speaking of originality, it’s still on its original Gay Freres Ladder bracelet, Gay Freres bracelets are extremely sought after, and it doesn’t get much cooler than a ladder. One thing to check though is that I have heard they cannot be sized more than the clasp adjustment allows, so make sure it will fit your wrist. Moving to the turquoise dial with the fantastic long sword hands and the paddle sweep seconds… need I say more? I like that the date windows on these are discretely tucked away in between the 4 and 5 o'clock ridged indices. The 28,800 VpH automatic movement is a Zenith workhorse that should roll around the dial quite nicely, once it receives a service. I believe the $725 asking price reflects this give that I typically see these well above the $1000 mark. This one is on eBay here, though it comes from a RedBar Chicago member, so references and a potential sale outside of eBay shouldn't be too difficult to setup...
That's it for this week's diver inspired picks, all of them have loads of character at reasonable prices, and should hold their value quite well. As always, remember to comment, email, or reach out via social media to play along.