This month's #thesubregister stays pretty true in bringing you the slightly less obvious in watches for sale that I've come across and found interesting. When I first started this "column" of sorts, it was in homage or an attempt to fill a gap left behind by the great "Bring a Loupe" posts I used to look forward to each week from Eric Wind on Hodinkee. I always appreciated that these roundups featured such a wide variety of watches, and not just the obvious grails and headliners from the usual dealers and auction houses. And I particularly liked that Mr. Wind could get as excited about a $200 eBay find as a rare Patek. Ironically enough that column, as well as some others that were running on other sites are no longer, but I will continue to bring you some oddballs, relative deals, and some under the radar cool watches, at least in my opinion.
I recently picked up a no date Skyliner on a whim, and have been surprised by how much and how often I enjoy wearing it. The very angular 38mm stainless steel case wears extremely well and modern in size, and the manually wound movement keeps the entire watch very slim and comfortable. The details of the watch make it very much a "poor man's" King or Grand Seiko, with the very sharp case bevels, applied chamfered indices, and angular beveled sword hands. The watch wears very large with the minute markers applied to the chapter ring, creating a great big silver starburst dial surface that is extremely clean and really great in varying light conditions. This one is said to be recently serviced, running well, and on it's original, more-blocky jubilee style bracelet. I'm tempted to fire on this myself, because at this price you're really getting a lot of watch that is very satisfying. Listed at $250 and accepting offers on eBay here.
Neo-vintage era (late 1980's - 1990's) versions of iconic tool watches have to be one of the worst kept secrets in watch collecting, yet they still represent some of the best "values" or opportunities in collecting. Maybe because it's more difficult to excited about these watches that don't have the current buzz and it factor, or maybe it's because they're not quite yet showing their true potential. This watch could be a great instance of the latter. The white dial Explorer II or "Polar Explorer" is somewhat of a cult classic, at least in comparing to the other Rolex sport models, predominantly with black dials, and the U serial number dates this to approximately 1997, or the end of the use of Tritium lume. This particular watch appears very clean and in good condition overall, with all of the original surface finishing appearing to be intact on the case and bracelet, it just hasn't developed any patina...yet. I say that because if you look at slightly earlier 16570's, say 1992, many have great patina on the dial and hands that really changes the entire dynamic of the watch, with the warm patina contrasting the otherwise stark white, almost sterile-white dial. These watches are not particularly "rare", so why am I excited about it? Well, the mid $4k range is going to be about the entry level for nearly any Rolex sport watch, with most true vintage models residing at least double the cost. So, this not only represents a (relatively) accessible (great) Rolex tool watch, but also an opportunity to "buy-in" to vintage, so to speak. This assumes the Tritium lume on the markers and hands will eventually develop patina over time, which seems to be a reasonable prediction, and I kind of have to think the "last" of any era of a great thing will also have some significance. So, I tend to not recommend buying a watch from an investment standpoint, since I cannot control the market or if this watch will develop patina (and if that will even be a desirable trait), but worst case scenario you have a great Rolex sports watch in the mid $4k range. $4,695 askign price on Rolexforums.com here.
Regardless of the times and the trends, the Rolex President (Day-Date) always retains a status of its own. The perfectly versatile and (arguable timeless) 36mm case and pure aesthetics make its layout iconic. Here's a chance to own nearly all of what has been described at a fraction of the price, and in stainless steel, rather than a precious metal. The silver sunburst dial appears to be gaining some nice champagne like patina, the brushing on all of the case surfaces is strong and clean, and overall, it just doesn't get much cleaner or more classic than this. Said to be running well from a reputable seller for just $1500 asking on OmegaForums here, this is a tough bargain to beat for what could be a staple in any collection.
I probably shouldn't be in the practice of posting watches that I think I might buy, but maybe we'll see who's reading, haha. If the Tudor above is too rich, I've been watching this one and have almost pulled the trigger a few times now, and I think it has finally relisted for the last time, since the seller has also reduced the asking price. Here you get the same 36mm stainless steel case, signed crown, and tritium dial and handset for yet a fraction of the Tudor's price. I don't like replica or homage watches, but there's something about a direct competitor to a much more expensive brand in the days where IP and lawsuits weren't as common, that's really kind of fun and cool to me. And at this price, why not? Starting bid at $100 with a buy it now of $200 on eBay here.
Last one, just because this watch has so many cool little quirky details, that I feel like watches today don't have. The sharp faceted case, angular hour indices, uniquely shaped hands, rid tipped running seconds, and that hidden crown! I assume that boasting their automatic movements, Eterna decided to completely recess the crown, because the watch wouldn't require winding or setting. Beautiful, signature movement, and original condition complete the package here, all for 360EUR asking on OmegaForums here.