I love watches. I love the way they look, the way they work, the stories behind them. I've had people call me a watch-a-holic. I'm constantly looking for "new" vintage watches to buy and thought I would use these pages to show the best finds of the day. But, you better act fast before I buy it out from under you!
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As you stumble out of the local Irish pub this St. Patrick’s Day, spewing green beer and excess onto the street, show that Irish pride on your wrist as well. The D. Freemont Limited Edition Irish Tribute watch can be purchased from a private seller on Watchuseek. A 42mm manual wind (Unitas 6497) movement are the guts of this watch, but it is the dial which gets everyone’s Irish up. There’s the obvious shamrock on the right side of the dial, but even the porcelain dial with copper hands speaks of watch design from the nostalgic past. It’s a nicely decorated movement on the reverse, sandwiched between sapphire crystals, a pretty and competent watch with an unmistakable Irish brogue. Seems a little pricey at $675, but perhaps you can use some of that Irish charm to talk the seller down.
Japanese rappers. A concept I had never given a thought to until I saw this auction. Evidently, Nixon made a special version of their massive 51-30 for a Japanese rap group called Nitro Microphone Underground (gotta love those Japanese band names). Anyway, I love the 51-30, something about the styling and massiveness of the case (51mm wide!) appeals to the historic skater punk of my yesteryears. Nixon took the gold and black 51-30 which also happens to be the colors of the group, and “blinged” it out with black stones (not diamonds) at the bezel and 3 diamonds at the 10:00 marker. According to the sales text, only 8 of these were made for the 8 members in the band. How this one came up for auction is anyone’s guess. Here’s the thing, the case is only gold tone: sort of a gold clad coating over a stainless steel case, so really, not gold at all. Also, Nixon tends to use very poor lume, so these watches are very hard to read at night. The regular 51-30 retails for about $500 (for a quartz chronograph movement), so I was thinking about $800 would be a good price for this model. The seller must have thought so as well, and set the reserve at $800. This auction might peek over $1,000 by the time everything is said and done, but I’d be really surprised if someone paid over $1,200 for essentially a quartz watch. Unless there is some rich fanboy in Japan who just had to dress like his heroes. Actually, Nitro Microphone Underground’s music isn’t too bad, reminds me of the early Beastie Boys: http://youtu.be/l3sIwHf0tD0
Two things I have never seen before: A green car tire, and a car tire watch. This watch by Marvin, looks to have a simple hand-wound 17-jewel movement, nothing really fancy. However, the real draw is the green tire surrounding the watch. Certainly makes this watch a fashion statement, although from here in the 21st century, I’m not sure how you are supposed to wear this watch. The strap looks like a hanging strap, maybe you were supposed to use this like a pocket watch around your car key ring? Anyway, for $350 at WatchestoBuy.com, this is a fun piece of 1960’s Americana!
Wow, a women’s watch that looks like it could have come straight out of the set of “The Great Gatsby.” A Longines purse watch, that a stylish woman in those days would have kept handy to tell the time. Because it was too gauche to wear a wristwatch like a man. Not when gold and diamonds could adorn that wrist. Anyway, don’t usually like these things, but I thought this example was striking. I love the pure silver case, the sleek styling, the oversized red Swiss cross, and the description says the case is, “spring loaded” which I would love to see in action. There is a touch of red enamel on the bottom, which lends a feminine sexiness to this item. As a watch geek, I love that the serial number of the case matches the movement, and that the movement, while it might just be a 15-jewel movement, is decorated and speaks of a higher-grade finishing. Very cool item for those vintage loving flappers out there at Finertimes.com. A little pricey at $2,095 but might be worth it to the right collector.
Another skateboard deck that features a watch graphic, this time from Girl Skateboards and is Jereme Rogers’ first pro sponsored deck. Speed Demon produced a deck series that featured the Casio G-Shocks that I blogged about before, but the watch on this deck looks more like an overdone Marc Ecko watch — with the chrono subdials and the rhinestone encrusted dial, bezel, and bracelet. For the price of this deck $99, you could get a real Marc Ecko watch with the Friends and Family discount of 40%. Of course, you couldn’t shred with it.
My folks went to China and all I got was this lousy Breitling. I think it is supposed to be a Breitling Navitimer, although it has a number of appearance problems. My dad knows I like big watches, so I think he bought the biggest watch the guy had laid out on the bed. His first question to me when he gave it to me was, do you know the brand? Evidently, he didn’t. So, I assured him it was a really famous brand, on par with Rolex and a favorite of pilots and such. Which was weird, because really, I wanted him to feel better for having bought me a fake watch from a well known brand. ANYWAY, this Breitling is only an “A” grade fake, evidently, which can be seen almost immediately in the dial. The large, presumably lumed hour markers look unlike anything Breitling has ever produced. If you think about it, a chronograph watch like this is supposed be accuracy and precision, but it is hard to get precision trying to read hour markers that large. The other thing noticeably missing from this watch is the trademark Breitling polish. Breitling polishes their cases into these mirror finishes. They take “mirror finish” literally at Breitling, which must be expensive, because although this case is polished, it is no where near a Breitling finish. Not even as good as a Seiko mirror finish, which far below a Breitling. The weight seemed about right, although the bracelet seemed too light, again. It seems to be made of that low grade stainless steel that is closer to aluminum than 316L surgical grade stainless. And again, we have that large gap between the end links and the bracelet (see photo) which is something Breitling would never tolerate for real. The watch has a nice heft but the rotating bezel is just too easy to slide around. I think a real Brightling bezel would have some nice friction while turning the bezel. The one on this watch can be dislodged quite easily with a finger. However, certain things on the watch look spot-on correct, which makes me think that many pieces of Breitling’s actual production watches must be made in China. The seconds hand on this watch (with the B counterbalance on the opposite end) looks correct. And I’m really impressed by the engraving and detail of the caseback. This is no cheap laser engraving on the caseback, it is truly engraved in high relief, and the logo in the center took some serious tooling. If I had seen just the one side of the caseback alone, I would have thought it might have been real. The only thing that makes me laugh is they misspelled DIRECTION. If you look closely, it is spelled “OIRECTION.” Lastly, I opened the caseback expecting to find a mechanical movement and opened instead to a quartz movement. At least it is a Miyota OS20 chronograph movement, which is actually a pretty nice movement and it means the chronograph in the watch will actually work. Always a good sign to have subdials on a fake watch that actually do something, instead of just being there for decoration!
The next two entries will be about fake watches because my parents just returned from a trip to China. So one night in their hotel, their tour guide knocked on their door and introduced them to a man who was selling fake watches. Of course, the salesman said they were “Guaranteed Authentic Imitation” watches. Evidently, in the fake watch industry, they have grades of fake watches. Dad bought this fake Rolex Datejust (I call it a Fauxlex), which was graded as a A Super + imitation. I assume that means it is a high grade imitation. Although I am no Rolex expert and not that fond of real Rolex watches, there are a number of things that one can see upon closer inspection that this watch is fake. First, just looking at the watch from across the table, it looks real. I imagine just a fleeting glimpse or seeing it on someone’s arm, it would not strike one as fake. However, when I picked it up, I realized that the watch was too light. The bracelet especially, seemed too light for a Rolex. Although the links in the bracelet are solid, they seem too light for a high-end bracelet. Even I know that Rolex marks their bracelet clasps, so in the picture above, one can see that the Rolex logo and hallmarks look okay, but they are not deeply engraved. Rather, they look almost like very poor laser engraving. I was impressed with the watch crystal, which had the Rolex crown engraved in the 6:00 position, like a real Rolex. Dad also told me that this A Super + fake has a sapphire crystal, which I suppose could be true. The hands are slightly wrong for this model. The real Rolex hands taper and a bit skinnier. Really, the hands are less chunky on the Real Rolex and are better proportioned. I was sort of impressed with the caseback sticker. While not a true-3D type sticker that Rolex uses, this fake 3D type sticker actually looked pretty good. Lastly, the bracelet has large gap between the end links attached to the case and the bracelet itself. Rolex would never allow that kind of gap. I won’t even mention all the little things one case see with 5x magnification loupe. The rough edges in the finish, the sloppy paint work on the date number subdial, even dust trapped between the crystal and cyclops when it was glue down. I adjusted the bracelet (something that shouldn’t have been that easy) for Dad, so I think he intends to wear it around. I’m interested inknowing how long the watch lasts. It has that annoying grating sound that Chinese automatic movements sometimes have when the rotor turns. So at least I know the watch has a mechanical movement rather than quartz guts. Next up, the “present” dad bought for me!
Check out this parking meter watch. It’s a Paul Garnier Minu-Stop in a very green dial. This watch charms me. Maybe because parking meters are all high tech now and have digital readouts and not numbered dials. Or that meters are so expensive now (25 cents for 10 minutes in our town) that you have to pay with a goddamn credit card now. Anyway, I thought about buying this very simple 17-jewel watch with the one hour parking meter timer. Basically you push the button over the crown to set the timer for one hour and then push again to start. It counts down from 60 minutes to zero, just like that parking meter in the old part of town does. I’ve seen this watch with black, bright red, and bright blue dials. I think this green dial is the best. The only thing that held me back was the $695 price tag from WatchestoBuy.com. It seems about $300 over-priced even for the slightly more rare green dial. But I guess that wasn’t much of a deterrence for another collector as this watch was snatched up in less than 48 hours.
The ultimate nerd watch! Not happy with your black plastic Casio Databank calculator watch? Go for this stainless steel nerd beauty! At 43mm wide it is a pretty decently sized watch, even if the buttons are so small you have to used the enclosed pen to push the buttons on the watch. I especially like the red LED readout, so 1970s! These LED watches tended to drain the battery so like any watch of this era, you have to push the button to turn it on and get the time. In this case, you push the “Pulsar” button and look quick because the time will only stay on for a few seconds. Again, with that pen. I can assure you that the current price of this collectible marvel, $1,650 at WatchestoBuy, was not anywhere close to the original retail ($395). And don’t forget the batteries. You need four watch batteries to power this thing, that would only last a few weeks. I imagine with the four battery weight, the size of this case, and the unlimited calculating ability, this watch made a man feel fierce and very space-age in the 1970’s. Now, we would associate this kind of watch with the Star Wars-hacker-fan boy geek stereotype. But I bet a watch collector (a nerd of totally different stripe, by the way (right….)) will snap up this unused, still in the box beauty in less than a couple of weeks.
Wow, great looking World War II era Ulysse Nardin Marine Chronometer from the British Royal Navy on auction. 17 jewel Chronometer movement paired with a great looking dial, housed in the original “Ministry of Defence” branded wooden box. These Marine chronometers are interesting to us in this day and age, but were an indispensable tool back before the invention of the quartz chronometers. Another interesting feature of this watch is that it has no crystal. Since they were made to be navigation instruments kept mainly in the box and not worn timepieces, who needs a crystal? But seeing as this is a hand wind movement, I guess you had to be very careful to to touch the dial or hands. Anyway, not your everyday horological instrument on auction!