It’s slim pickens this week, and not because there aren't some great watches out there for sale.
But because one goal I have for #thesubregister is to try and not pull from the usual suspects. I could routinely point you in the direction of dealers like HQ Milton, Rarebirds, and Menta, etc., but once you’ve heard of those websites, you know you can look there, and that those guys have to sell fairly well vetted watches (or risk their reputation). So I try and bring light to the not so usual suspects that may not necessarily be "important" for this reason or that. The ones that could be a minefield, but I hopefully help you take a closer look.
This week, those that met that criteria were a bit more scarce. But here are the few that caught my eye starting with a poor man's Autavia of sorts...
Nivada, Nivada Grenchen, Croton, etc. is obviously well known for making watches under multiple names due to import/export restrictions of various countries. This Austin label seems to fit that bill, and I have seen a few others like it. I particularly like the Austin font, making this one a little more unusual (and less common) than the Nivada varietals. At 38 mm with a bi-directional bezel and sharply beveled stainless lugs, you are getting a case very similar to that of the great screw back Heuer Autavias. The sub registers have a really cool bronze / metallic finish that is certainly uncommon and adds even more variety to the already interesting hand combination. The chrono counters all receiving red/orange hands and the sweep seconds having a bi-color hand add a little extra pop and reduce an attention being drawn to the center pinion holding all of the hands. This is carried through on the minute and hour hands as well, making the sub registers pop that much more. What would be a Valjoux 72 in an Autavia is traded out for a cam lever Valjoux 7736 movement, said to be in good condition. The signed crown and caseback all appear to be in good condition as well, rounding out the package on this watch. It is located in Denmark, but bidding is only at $676 at time of writing, on what could easily be a $2000 watch.
Pointing out vintage Rollies is a little risky for me, because it's admittedly not my bread and butter, as I'm just not well versed in all of the nuances. But due to the slim pickens circumstances, here I am. The Air King always seems like an underrated and overlooked stunner of a watch. To me, it's a great watch for the person that wants a classic, timeless Rolex that isn't a Submariner (or is less expensive), but is a little bit more in the know or appreciative of Rolex' rich tool watch heritage. The Air King came to life as a pilot's watch, in use by the British Royal Air Force in the 1930's. There were many variations of the "Air" line of watches over the years, but the reference 5500 remained largely unchanged for 37 years. Just think about that, the watch retained a single reference number for nearly four decades. It's appreciated for it's rugged simplicity, and it's about as clean of a design as you can get. This one dates to about 1987 or '88 and appears to be very clean, most likely the result of a recent service. The blue dial is a fantastic hue that could easily be dressed up or down, and the fact that it's Tritium really appeals to me, as it can develop some nice patina over the years. The hands are so surgically clean and precise, fitting for the "precision" verbiage on the dial. The accompanying oyster bracelet completes the package for a watch that could have been produced today or in this case, 30 years ago. I sense there might still be a little bit of room in the $3500 asking price, and I would want a few more pics of the dial and caseback to see how polished it is. Available on WatchUseek forums for over 4 weeks now here.
These "vintage" or older Sinn watches might just be future classics, like we speak of watches from the 1960's today. Built for tool / pilot's watch form and function, with the fantastic Lemania 5100 movement, and a tritium dial to develop a nice warm patina over the years, these watches look great today, but will most likely be full on bangers in 20 years. As referenced in the FS posting, the Lemania 5100 is a very highly regarded and really cool automatic chronograph movement with the central elapsed minutes hand the the 24 hour sub register up top. The case couldn't more currently sized at 43 mm and appears to be in really nice condition, with its original bead blasted finish. The rotating bezel adds to it's "Bund" like pilot's aesthetic and comes with plenty of extras. I wouldn't really anticipate these to get much less expensive as the years go by as they are already starting to garner attention among vintage collectors and the strong Sinn following. Listed at $2250 by a seller indicating he's ready to make a deal and get this one moved on over at WUS forums here.
There are some stunning watches for sale at the moment. Take this pie pan 3647T Heuer Carrera on eBay, this "Eric Clapton" Universal Geneve Tri-Compax, or even the closely related "Nina Rindt" with double grain beads of rice bracelet, or maybe go the dealer route with this Nivada Grenchen Datomaster, all with a lot of exposure from very visible resources. These are all fantastic watches, but hopefully I've been able to supplement them with variety, and that is the goal. If you come across something you think fits the bill on the street or online, or would like to contribute watches you feel are interesting, feel free to contact me. Until then, happy hunting.