I don't know if it's a lull before the big fall auctions or a ramp up, but we are seeing some watches sit a bit longer than usual, and also some heavy hitters surfacing. I'm going to take a little different approach this week and cover a wide variety and also dive into spotting one of the most faked vintage watches. But first, let's start with unearthing a unicorn.
Pretty much the funkiest, rarest, most colorful, and most elusive of all of the 1960's Heuer Carreras is the Skipper, reference 7754. Technically, not a Carrera, the Skipper was its own model from the late 60's to the mid 80's but is often times referenced with the more common models like "Carrera" or "Autavia" due to the borrowing of the cases from those models, hence why this one also receives the "Skipper-erra" nickname due to it being the only one produced in 60's Carrera case. The trademark of the Skipper is the chronograph minute counter which is modified to display 15 minutes, with different colors indicating 5 minute intervals to aid in counting down the timing to the start of a sail boat race. The Skippererra is arguably the most striking of these Skipper color combos, and the one chosen by Hodinkee for their recent re-issue / homage to the elusive model.
This particular example is in excellent condition, with the tritium at the hour indices and in the hand turning a nice light amber. The case appears very sharp and relatively unpolished, which is crucial for these watches, and the dial, with that strikingly unique color combo in fantastic shape. Mick Tock is well respected member of the watch community that I wouldn't hesitate to buy from, and even if you're not interested in the watch, you should give his instagram a follow, you will not be disappointed by his high quality photography (and videos) of some amazing watches. As the image states, click through to DM for more info on this stunning and crazy rare watch.
To balance out the epic craziness of that last one, let's take a look at a relatively inexpensive watch that sold on Sunday. I was watching and even bid on this one, ultimately remarking that the $240 finishing price might be a relative bargain. Caravelle was a sub brand of Bulova, and these no-date, manual wind dive watches have many of the characteristics that make so many vintage icons so special: matte, explorer style dial, big attractive Tritium lume plots, lollipop seconds hand, a bezel that is turning a color other than black, etc., etc. The 11DP movement is pretty reliable and relatively easy to work on, and the 37mm-ish case wears fantastic on the wrist, with the big, exposed winding crown. This particular one dates to 1971 and appears all original and correct, sporting the later stick hands, and the text change to "water resistant 666 Feet" from "waterproof". I've had two of these, and would have been happy to add this one to the collection as well, as they're quite fun and clean up nicely. The wildcard on how good of a deal this was is how much work (if any) it needs. I suspect a little bit of Polywatch on the crystal will go along way, and it wouldn't hurt to factor in a basic servicing to ensure it keeps on ticking, but even at $100 or so (I wouldn't send this out to the watchmaker of the highest reputation and price) for the service you've still got a watch that is very fulfilling at less than $350, and will often fetch $500 on a good day. Find the original listing on eBay here.
What Not to Buy - Vintage Tudor Ranger Edition
Going full rogue this week, let's also look at two different takes at faking the same watch. The vintage Tudor Ranger is a veritable mine field that many won't even touch. It is said that there are actually more fakes that real vintage Tudor Rangers. What happened is that early on Tudor made these in the same cases and reference numbers as their Oyster, Oyster Prince, and Prince OysterDate, so it was easy to pick up one of these other models with say, a damaged dial, add in a repo dial and some hands that are pretty close, and mark it way up. It wasn't until the 1980's when Tudor released a Ranger specific reference like the no-date, manual wind 90220 / 90020 / 9002/0, so be sure you're paying extra close attention to the 9050, 7995, 7990, etc., references.
Around this time these fakes were coming to the market, the Rolex Submariners with red text on the dial, and the likes of the big red Daytona's were getting popular, so a large run of these fake or put together Tudor Rangers have the "Ranger" text in red, often referred to as "Red Rangers". It is now widely regarded that these are ALL fake and a real Ranger was never sold with red text. (There is a small contingent that does hold the belief that a few individuals were able to get custom printed red text from Rolex either at time of service or some other deep web of a story.) Either way, these stories seem spotty at best, so I would widely say, if it's red, stay away.
The two accepted model variations are the "Oyster" designating a manual wind (by lacking the term Prince and thus an automatic movement), and "Prince OysterDate" designating an automatic movement in an Oyster case with date. (There is some debate as to if a third, "Oyster Prince" model also existed, with an automatic movement, but no date). For the instances of quickly weeding out the fakes, let's focus on the Prince OysterDate. The dead giveaway here is if there is a gap between the words "Oyster" and "Date", where it should read, "OYSTERDATE" without a gap.
As you can see in the real and fake examples, the shape of the unique hour hand is also slightly different, with the real one on the right appearing a bit sharper or more "arrowhead-y" and the lume fill on the minute hand also being different. The hands are harder to tell, but can also serve as another point of reference if everything else is checking out.
At 34 mm in diameter the Ranger is often seen as the little brother of the Rolex Explorer, though, I happen to have a real soft spot for the Oyster manual wind versions. The dial is every bit as clean and perfect as a 1016 Explorer's though you also get the very funky shovel hour hand and the flag running seconds, with a manual wind (ETA) movement, which is somewhat of a bonus to me since I really enjoy winding a watch in the morning. So you essentially get a less common, manual wind 1016 explorer for a fraction of the price, albeit with an ETA caliber movement (instead of a Rolex) and in a 2 mm smaller case. I went deep down this rabbit hole one year while in talks with an original owner's son via eBay that I was able to determine was real, but just wasn't confident at that time since I was still new-ish to the game. Oh, if I only knew then what I know now, I would have an original owner Tudor Oyster Ranger on original Rolex Oyster bracelet for $1400. But I digress, I do think these are very cool watches, and the slightly smaller size and bad reputation do keep them somewhat more affordable, IF you know what you're looking for.
To close with one that's actually available, I was able to find one real Ranger on eBay from an Italian seller, albeit at a pretty aspirational, given the condition 5000EUR asking price (but he is taking offers). I almost wrote this one off at first glance due to it appearing to have a fluted bezel, though it seems that is just a reflection appearing in the pictures. The watch appears to mostly correct though I suspect it has been somewhat prepared as the tops of the lugs appear sharp with their original brushing and the case back appears quite worn. I also suspect that the Oyster bracelet is not original as the end links don't appear to line up as well as they should and the bracelet has a 1972 date, though the serial of the watch would land it somewhere around late 1966 / early 1967. The biggest detractor for me is the lume loss and the hour indices, since that really is what you're paying for in this watch - those big, bold, explorer-style hour plots with a nice attractive patina. If this watch were in really good shape, this price might be somewhat justified, but in this condition, I would hold onto my monies and wait for a better one to come along...someday. Click through the photo for the full listing, or find it for the 5000EUR asking price here.
That's it for this week, if you enjoyed the slightly modified format or have suggestions on what else you'd like to see, please feel free to reach out or comment below. Until next time, happy hunting!