And the other one…

Okay, the other incoming then – the Grand Seiko SBGK005, a limited edition of 1500 watches and already one that’s looking quite hard to get hold of.

First of all, what does Grand Seiko have to say about it?

A new manual-winding calibre. A new slim profile. A blue dial. The Grand Seiko Elegance Collection sets a new course.

Calibre 9S63 is a significant addition to the ever growing Grand Seiko family of movements. It has been eight years since the last manual-winding mechanical calibre in Grand Seiko and it has been worth the wait. Calibre 9S63 offers a small seconds hand at the nine o’clock position and a power reserve indicator at three o’clock. Calibre 9S63 has a power reserve of 72 hours and delivers an accuracy rate of +5 to -3 seconds a day.

A new slim design with blue Mt. Iwate pattern dial. The stainless steel cases are polished by a special Zaratsu method created to accentuate the beauty of the curved surfaces. The dials and the sapphire crystals are also curved to give the watches a classic look.

Blue accents for the movement and the case back. The blue lion mark and tempered screws can be seen through the sapphire case back.

A bit more about the movement, and the specification in general:

Type: Manual winding mechanical 9S63
Accuracy: +5 to -3 seconds per day
Power reserve: Approximately 72 hours
Vibrations: 28,800 vibrations per hour (8 beats per second)
Jewels: 33 jewels
Characteristics: Power reserve indicator, small seconds hand
Crystal: Domed sapphire
Strap: Crocodile with single-fold deployant clasp
Water resistance: 3 bar
Case: stainless steel with Zaratsu finish
Dimensions: 39mm diameter, 11.6mm thickness, 19mm lug width

The SBGK005 is part of a new line of Grand Seiko “Elegance” models (these tend to be dressier and more classic than the other GS collections which, to my mind, can come across as a little too austere and clinical at times). Most of the case is mirror (Zaratsu) polished, with only the central facet of the midcase brushed. Transitions between components are delineated either by razor sharp edges (for instance, where the bezel meets the case) or radiused curves (in the case of the lug shape), with the reflections emphasising the changes in geometry.

The 9S63 movement is Grand Seiko’s first new manual-winding calibre in eight years, but it actually builds on the well-established architecture of the tried and tested 9S64. It features a small seconds complication at 9 o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 3; the movement boasts 72 hours of power reserve on a full wind, and the accuracy is rated to +5/-3 seconds a day. It has 33 jewels and a beat rate of 28,800 bph.

However, whilst both the case and the movement are impressive this watch is really all about the dial. Whilst it isn’t lacquered like some of the other variants in the new line-up, it shares their finish in boasting a surface that’s intended to symbolise the texture of Japan’s Mt. Iwate. Whilst it’s quite hard to photograph (because of the domed crystal rather than the dial itself) it really is nothing short of spectacular in the metal.

So, on that note to the photographs… with apologies for not really producing the quality of image that I was looking for. It transpired that the crystal – when under my lights – presented a challenge that I didn’t quite have the time yesterday evening to overcome but perhaps I’ll have another shot at it at some point soon.

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A rather special incoming

Well, I’ve had a couple of incomings over the past month or so, but given that I spend my weekdays up in Newcastle right now I’ve not really had a chance to take any photographs of them until this weekend. in fact, I hadn’t unpacked my lights for the best part of a year as it’s such a palaver, but I decided it was worth the effort. So, to the first of them…

A Lange & Söhne 1815 Up/Down Special Edition

A Lange & Söhne was originally founded by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in Glashutte, Germany in 1845. However, the original ALS (along with the other Glashutte-based watch houses) was nationalised and ceased to exist in 1948, following the occupation by the Soviet Union after World War II. In fact, it wasn’t until 1990 that the current A. Lange & Söhne trademark was re-registered, when Lange Uhren GmbH was founded by Walter Lange, the great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange.

The number 1815 is a significant date in the history of ALS, as its the year Ferdinand was born in Dresden; now, the number represents a family of watches that pays a tribute to that legacy. The range consists of models with complications such as the chronograph, annual calendar, tourbillon, and perpetual calendar. However, the 1815’s all take their DNA from pocket watches (for which ALS was known prior to its nationalisation) by using traditional elements like railway minute track, Arabic numerals and club-shaped markers on the 15-minute intervals. The company has always had a history of innovation, and in fact a particular Patent – no. 9349 – was granted to ALS on 18 May 1879. The subject was a “device in pocket watches for recognising whether the watch is wound or unwound and for indicating how much time remains before it reaches the totally unwound state.” This was, in fact, the official moment that ALS’s characteristic UP/DOWN power-reserve indicator was born.

Looking at this watch (and in addition to the UP/DOWN power-reserve indicator) the blued hands, the recessed central segment, the Arabic numerals and the railway-track minute scale were all inspired by historic pocket watches. A top-mounted wheel train on the caseback side of the Calibre L051.2 movement and two additional screwed gold chatons are manifestations of the mainspring barrel that was enlarged with the 1815 and delivers power for three days. Also, because this is ALS, who have an obsessive attention to detail, the movement features a stop mechanism, which means that when the watch does eventually lose all of its stored energy, the seconds counter stops precisely at zero.

One thing that I didn’t know is that every ALS watch is effectively unique, because each movement that comes out of the manufacture with one component which is hand engraved; so, apart from the famous three quarter plates, gold chatons, and 245 individual parts, this one also features ALS’s individually hand-engraved balance cock. This tradition of engraving the balance-cock goes way back to the pocket watches. When ALS relaunched in the 90s they continued with this tradition, and because the engravings are done by half a dozen different craftsmen at the manufacture, each one looks different.

Anyway, the specification of the Calibre L051.2 movement…

Number of movement parts: 245
Number of rubies: 29
Number of screwed gold chatons: 7
Power reserve: 72 hours when fully wound
Oscillation frequency: 21600 bph
Beat-adjustment system: Screw balance
Movement measures: diameter 30.6 mm; height 4.6 mm

Finally, then, to this particular special edition, limited to just 25 numbered watches in rose gold and another 25 in white gold. It marks 25 years since the reborn manufacture released the first of it’s watches back in 1994 and also celebrates the association with Wempe (another brand that was nationalised back in the day), who were tasked with selling them all through their own dealerships. As special/limited editions go… well, it really is special, and it really is limited!

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A long-overdue update

A while ago, I decided that a consolidation of my collection was somewhat overdue. My target was to go from 16 to 10 in total, and having mulled over what to retain and what to let go a few very nice watches were moved on. Out went my Aquanaut (it funded my motorcycling adventure, and frankly the value of it as a wrist trinket was getting silly); my Royal Oak Diver (a bloody gorgeous watch, but just a little too hefty for my wrist); and both my Parmigiani and Zenith chronographs.

What I didn’t count on was any new arrivals, but – true to form – I seem to have struggled in achieving my objectives in respect of any meaningful reduction. As there are some nice new trinkets now fighting for wrist time, though, I thought I’d pop up a quick incoming post with an image or two to liven it up 🙂

Rolex (Zenith) Daytona 16523

I only recently moved a steel Zenith Daytona on, but when I saw this beauty from 1996 listed for sale I felt a strange compulsion to nab it. The seller was happy to take my Parmigiani in part trade, and given that I was thinking of moving it on anyway a deal saw very swiftly concluded.

I must admit that I was in two minds when it arrived. It was clearly a lovely thing, but I wasn’t 100% sure how I felt about wearing a steel and gold watch. A couple of days in, though, and I was absolutely loving it. Maybe it’s because I’m in my late fifties now, but in any event it makes a lovely change, and it’s surprisingly adaptable. My task now is to keep it away from Bea, who has an uncanny knack of nabbing the watches she takes a fancy to.

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Grand Seiko SBGE245G

This one was a real surprise, as – whilst I’d admired them from photos on the web I’d never considered buying one. However, when a trade deal materialised and I tried it on, it became a bit of a no-brainer.

It’s a Spring Drive GMT, and is a limited edition of 600 available from Seiko flagship salons, Seiko Premium Boutiques, and Seiko Premium Watch Salons across Japan (to quote Seiko, that is – they’re about to start appearing here in the UK, though, and this one seems to have been one of the very first received by authorised dealers here). Its water resistant to 200m, and offers three time zones using both the GMT hand and the 24 hour bezel. Unlike most GS Spring Drives, it also has torch-like lume.

Aside from the stunning sapphire bezel it has a mahogany-red dial with a very subtle sunburst finish, there’s a power reserve on the dial (which I think looks fantastic, and contrasts beautifully with the dial itself). It measures 44mm and is about as big as I’d want to go with it, but it wears nicely and (being a Spring Drive) features that mesmerising sweep of the second hand. I love it.

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Seiko SLA025J1

This is another watch (limited this tie to 1500 pieces) that came in a trade, but – given how much I liked the original vintage 6159-7001 when I owned it – it’s probably less of a surprising choice.

Anyone who knows the 6159 will see immediately that this is a very faithful homage in terms of both design and specification. It measures a fairly hefty 44.8mm in diameter, and features a monobloc case and coin-edge bezel; like the 6159, the lugs are long and angular. Inside is Seiko’s calibre 8L55, a hi-beat (36,000 bph) movement that’s essentially a less decorated version of the Grand Seiko calibre 9S85. What remains is a high-end movement with a 55-hour power reserve, 37 jewels and very decent accuracy.

The case is also finished in the same way as a Grand Seiko. This means that the polished surfaces are finished by hand using the traditional Zaratsu method, with sharp angles and perfectly flat surfaces.

The black aluminium insert has a golden track and numerals, designed just like the 1968 version. Seiko again harks back to the original with a matte black “gilt” dial, and having now owned both I would say that they’ve come up with a fantastic tribute to a real horological icon from the 1960’s. They even provide it on a classic waffle strap that – again – mirrors what one would have worn the 6159 on all those years ago.

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So, that’s about it in terms of changes. Oh, save for the fact that – a few months ago now – I sold the Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec on the sailcloth strap, and snagged the bracelet version instead (along with a sailcloth strap as well, so the best of both worlds). I’m not sure that I’ve ever posted a photo of the watch on the bracelet, but I finally managed to take one this evening.

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For what it’s worth, I have no worries whatsoever in having sold a few “high end” watches, and frankly no longer enjoyed wearing wrist jewellery worth in excess of £20-30k. In any event, they helped fund some work on the house and my newfound motorbike madness, which to my mind is money well spent.

Some more horological husbandry!!!

It’s been a while since I last posted, and this piece once again is about changes to what seems to be an ever-growing collection (not through any planning or intent on my part, I hasten to add – I actually thought I might be able to get the numbers down a bit). That said, I’ve had some new arrivals over the past few months so I thought I’d write a quick update for those that might have an interest 🙂

Omega SM300 new build

I’ve admired these from afar for absolutely ages, as I love the originals and had a WTB for one for quite a while. There have been some lovely examples passing through SC but I’ve never quite managed to nab one, but finally this unworn example reared its head in Singapore and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. It’s one of the sought-after Lewis Watch Company builds, and there’s a post on the Omega Forum that sets out the background very nicely. For those who don’t like to follow links, here’s the gist of it…

What I’ve done with these is a fair bit more thorough than what Watchco did with theirs a few years back.

The movements are still from donor watches (565 for date and 552 without date). However they have had no expense spared servicing performed which included as a minimum new centre wheels, cannon pinions, mainsprings of course, some have had new barrels, barrel bridges, balances. Essentially whatever they needed in terms of new parts as well as traditional techniques to reduce or eliminate the effects of 50 odd years of wear on someone’s wrist.

Add to that entirely synthetic lubrication and at least a month of testing and fine tuning. Each case back has been professionally engraved on the inside with the serial of the movement, the build date, my company initials and the sequence number (1 of 6).

They have all been tested waterproof to 100meters which is all the Witschi Proofmaster S will go to. – This is a professional grade machine and is extremely sensitive to case deformation under vacuum and pressure. They have also been wet tested. I then produced a certificate for each watch giving its particulars. It’s timing and waterproof test performance numbers are listed.

ALL parts are new stock except of course the movement. ALL parts used are Omega and the correct ones for this reference, right down to the case clamps and screws. ALL bezels align properly at 12, no dodgy factory seconds here.

I have added the latest deployant clasp and leather or rubber strap which are also Omega items. Perhaps controversially I don’t like the mesh bracelet ( apart from to look at ) as it’s hard to get a proper fit and is uncomfortable to wear. Likewise the 1171 / 633 is a $25 bracelet with a $400 price tag.

Wrapping it all up is a brand new wooden Omega box of the Planet Ocean / modern SM300 variety. Plus a 12 month warranty on my workmanship.

So… a great build, two OEM leather straps and a deployant, a bit of paperwork, some engraving, a lovely box set and lume like a torch. What’s not to love?

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Breitling Navitimer 806

I find the general love of all things Breitling a bit mystifying, if I’m honest. Whilst I don’t doubt their quality for a moment, I really haven’t seen many that I like and most are simply far too blingy for an old fart/traditionalist like me. That said, there has always been one exception, and that’s the Navitimer. Within the iconic chronograph hierarchy I believe it holds a place very near the top, and I shudder when I think that in the past I’ve simultaneously owned an 806, and Ed White and a white gold Daytona… all of which have slipped through my fingers.

Anyway, the Navitimer has a genuinely interesting heritage and history. After the great success of Breitling’s first slide-rule watch (the Chronomat), the Navitimer was launched all the way back in 1952. Whilst the Chronomat was focussed on the engineer and businessman market, the Navitimer was designed specifically for pilots; so much so that the “Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association” (AOPA) immediately decided to make it their official watch. This new Navitimer combined three essential tools for navigation – a watch, a chronograph and a slide-rule. It was, effectively, a navigation timer, hence the name it was given.

It was designed with the Venus 178 movement (although some later models contained a Valjoux), a well-respected column wheel chronograph, and the first to be produced were fitted with a black Arabic dial and the famous AOPA logo. In fact, on the very first models “Breitling” was only seen on the case back. Shortly afterwards, the Breitling name was added over the AOPA logo, sometimes topped with the “B”. The reference of this watch was 806, and remained so until the introduction of a completely new generation in the 1970’s.

Over the following years, there were a number of dial variations, each termed a “Generation” (numbered 1-7 or so up to the 70’s, at least); there are some reasonably good sources of information out there for anyone who may be interested, but it takes a bit of legwork and it can be a little confusing as not all historic accounts are completely consistent.

Anyway, this acquisition is lovely – a 2nd Generation 806 that dates to 1966. It really is in good all-original condition, with a white on black dial and incorporating the earlier/smaller subdials that I think are by far the nicer.

Aside from the fact that the case is unpolished but in great original shape, the patina on dial and hands is even and dark, and the subdials are gorgeous (it was also very recently serviced, but there was no attempt to clean the dial – there are obvious signs of discolouration, but on the plus side it means that it’s in untouched condition). Note the absence of red highlights too – seen on later/current models but unsubtle in comparison.

Just a little (more specific) information on the 2nd Generation variant, taken from the Net… in approximately 1960 – after the watch had already become a huge success – the Navitimer’s design was modified and thereafter became known as “2nd Generation”. The three subdials changed from black to white, the hands were remodelled and the Breitling name appeared in printing on the dial. During the 1960’s the slide-rule bezel was also remodelled twice. Moreover, the AOPA wing was removed from the dial and the official Breitling Navitimer logo became two aircrafts flying in close formation. At the same time, however, Breitling continued to supply AOPA with Navitimers sporting the AOPA logo on the dial.

So… here you go!

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Omega Speedmaster 60th Anniversary

Now, I’ll state at the outset that I love this trilogy of tribute watches released by Omega. I already have the Seamaster 60th (I’m actually wearing it as I type, and it’s one of my favourite watches), so I was delighted when an opportunity arose to add it’s sibling. I’m actually tempted to get the Railmaster too, but I’ll have to have a good think about that before taking the plunge yet again.

I won’t bother writing any kind of history of the Speedmaster, but will just say (as I’m sure most people know by now) that the proportions and design of the 60th Anniversary are an exact match of those of the first model launched in 1957, the reference CK2915-1.

The dial as also a faithful reproduction of its ancestor, as are the broad arrow hands (seen again, also, on the previously released Speedmaster ’57); the applied Omega logo has been reincarnated, and the Omega Speedmaster signature is in the original font.

Whilst the 60th is a very faithful tribute, the movement is of course the modern caliber 1861. The bracelet is identical in style to ye original, but is far more solid and sports a very sold clasp with micro-adjustment on the fly. The lume – yes, it’s been given an aged look like the other two watches in the “set”, and some people will no doubt find that a little marmite – is a lovely bright luminova, whereas the original would have been radium. Finally, the “Swiss Made” is now above the seconds, track while it used to be below.

For comparison purposes, then, here’s the original…

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And here’s the 60th!

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Actually, given that I mentioned its Seamaster sibling I may as well post a shot of that too, whilst I’m at it!

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Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec

Well, this is the last of the incomings, and to be honest it’s the one I’d been craving since I first heard of its release. In fact, I’ve paid more than one begging visit to the Bond Street boutique, even at one point trying to buy the prototype (only 500 were released globally, and the boutique were allocated just 2!).

To trace it back to it’s roots one has to travel back all the way to the early 1950’s – even before Rolex released the first iteration of the Submariner at 1954’s Basel Watch Fair. In 1952, the French “Nageuers de Combat” (combat swimmers) was formed by the French government as an elite team of tactical soldiers – effectively, they were France’s early equivalent of the Navy Seals. Led by Captain Bob Maloubier, the mission of this elite group of frogmen was undersea intelligence gathering and acts of sabotage, such as attacks in sea ports or destruction of ships, all accomplished by teams of divers often working at night.

Beyond their diving tanks, scuba regulators, masks, flippers and suits, Maloubier understood the importance of robust and reliable diving instruments, of which there were three: a compass, a depth metre and a diving watch. The watch was central to many of the key tasks confronting the divers. Of course the timing of the dive was an essential (it would not to do to over-stay the supply of oxygen). A second, and perhaps somewhat less obvious need was timing for navigation purposes. After running tests of the watches then available on the market, Maloubier concluded that none were up to the task. Thus, he decided to undertake the conception and design of a timing instrument that would target the needs of military combat diving.

Blancpain fulfilled these needs and provided the first model of this very specific divers watch in 1953, the “Fifty Fathoms”. The rest, I guess is history, but amongst the many models that have been produced since then the Mil-Spec (based closely on the original Mil-Spec that was produced in 1957 – so in fact another 60th anniversary release) is one of just two of the modern variants to be given a substantially more wearable case of “a mere” 40mm. I’ve previously owned both the standard auto and the Dark Knight, both of which were 45mm, and whilst I loved them both they were simply a little too big for me.

That half orange, half white circle you see prominently placed at six o’clock is an indicator for water ingress. If the dial is exposed to water – even a relatively small amount – the white part will begin to turn a reddish-orange to match the other side. However, with WR rated at 300m, one would sincerely hope that it’s not something that will ever be anything more than redundant functionality.

Inside, and unlike the larger FF’s, is the Blancpain calibre 1151 movement. In fact, it’s made by Piguet but has been used extensively by Blancpain, and also by Brequet, AP and VC. Only Blancpain is allowed by Piguet to have a 100 hour reserve, whilst other companies have to settle on a “measly” 70 hours. The movement doesn’t hack, either, which had me frantically consulting my Google-Fu to ensure that mine didn’t have a problem!

I’m absolutely delighted to have snagged this watch; I genuinely thought I’d missed the boat, so it was especially lovely to finally strap it to my wrist.

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Some Changes at HPTH…

I sealed a trade on a lovely watch last week, and in doing so I realised that there have been quite a few incomings over the last few weeks and months but my focus (excuse the pun) on other types of photography had meant that I hadn’t had any time to set up my lights and take some shots of any of them. That, and my recent decision to move my larger watches on and stick to watches of 36-40mm (with a couple of exceptions) mean that an update is probably long overdue.

Some lovely watches have moved on to new homes, including my Fifty Fathoms, PAM346, B-1 and vintage Seikos. It hurt, to be honest, but there have been some beauties coming in to replace them – all of which are a wearable size for me…

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph

This was the last of the “Holy Trinity” for me to try, and I must confess that I had no intention of buying one until I had a beer with my good mate Howard and tried his on. It was about to go off to VC for a full service (and they certainly take their time), but it returned recently and as we often do we ended up agreeing a trade that suited both of us.

I’m delighted with this one, from 2001 and now in as-new condition again; in fact, it makes me wonder whether I’ll keep the ceramic Daytona that’s due any time now as I think the VC is a fair bit classier. The bracelet is absolutely wonderful too, which helps.

Launched in 1999 and in production until 2004, this Overseas was Vacheron Constantin’s first sports chronograph. It houses an automatic calibre 1137, was made in about 500 pieces in yellow gold and a bit over 2000 in steel; this uses the Frederic Piguet 1185 as the base but when VC were finished with it it looked quite beautiful, albeit that you can’t see the damned thing!

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Anyway, a couple of shots…

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Zenith Chronomaster Triple Date Moonphase

These amazing watches – possibly my favourite modern era Zenith, in fact – have taken on near-iconic status, and it’s easy to see why. Housing the marvellous El Primero movement in a beautifully finished 39mm case, this one (from 2006) is the second that I’ve owned. The first was the non-moonphase version, though, and for the last three or so years ‘ve been sitting in wait, looking for the right example to come up on the used market.

Finally, this popped up on SC and I was absolutely delighted to snag it. Yes, that’s two white dialled chronos already, so that Daytona (when it arrives) is going to cause some real angst.

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Grand Seiko SBGW033

This watch was released back in 2012 as Seiko’s limited edition 130th Anniversary model and a tribute to the first ever Grand Seiko (note the lovely dial text, and the somewhat anachronistic mention of the Diashock anti-shock system that nowadays wouldn’t even get a mention). In fact, this is another watch that I’ve waited years to find, and amazingly this one was first sold in 2016 so it really is as new.

It’s a lovely 35.8mm in diameter, and has a beautifully inscribed case back befitting of it’s deliberately vintage look and feel. Inside is the calibre 9S64 hand-wound movement, which I believe was made specifically for this watch. After such a long wait I’m delighted with it, and certainly prefer it to the SBGR061 that I’ve owned previously. The dial is a bit lighter in shade, the text more refined, and it meets my new criteria in terms of size (well, within 0.2mm).

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Dornblüth Kal 0.40

Now, this is a genuinely rare watch; only one year of production (2006) and in total 75 pieces were made, of which 50 were in stainless steel and 25 in rose gold. With a very wearable 38mm case, the other striking difference to Dornblüth’s other models is that the internals in these are based on a GUB movement from some time around the early 90’s. In fact, when I owned my first one of these (it’s unbelievable two have had a pair, as they’re so hard to get your hands on) I wrote to Dirk and asked for some more detail on the movement. His reply was as follows:

Kal. 04.0 movement includes 50% parts of an old GUB movement and 50% of the ebauche movement AS 1560 from the 1950’s. We have overworked and finished this parts to be able to create one movement.

The applied numerals are black steel whilst the hands are blued, and all in all it really is a wonderful watch. This one certainly won’t be going anywhere!

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Rolex Sea-Dweller 16600

Not much to say about this as everyone knows them. However, this is a tritium-dialled beauty from 1997, with a lovely sharp case and lume that’s just beginning to turn. A perfect example from my perspective, and currently on a Rubber B strap to make a change from steel and leather.

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Right – that’s it! A few months-worth of additions together with some recent exits, and I’m nearly there in terms of meeting my new 36-40mm rule. Happy days 🙂

40 years

This year marks the 40th anniversary of what I think is a pretty special watch. All the way back in 1972, Audemars Piguet had changed the world of horology with the introduction of the Royal Oak – a Gerald Genta designed watch that signalled the beginning of the luxury sports watch. It was inevitable that other brands would respond in similar vein, and sure enough Patek Philippe did so in 1976; interestingly, it was with another Genta design – the Nautilus 3700. Like the story behind Genta’s design for the Royal Oak, the Nautilus also provides some insight into the way this great man thought, designed as it was over a hotel dinner with the porthole of a transatlantic liner as his inspiration. He was aware of two PP executives sharing the restaurant with him at the time, and it took him all of five minutes to complete his first sketch before going over for a quiet word. Amazing.

The Nautilus 3700/1 had a patented case formed of a solid mono-bloc module into which the movement was inserted. Sitting on top of that module was the now iconic octagonal bezel, with brushed and polished faceted surfaces. The case had two “ears”, reminiscent of the hinges of a porthole, and was finished off with an integrated bracelet, as could also be found on the Royal Oak. The dark dial was embossed with horizontal lines, with gold baton indexes. Inside the 42mm case (no wallflower for the time, hence the “Jumbo” nickname) was a Jaeger-LeCoultre ultra-thin movement, calibre 920, named calibre 28-255 C by Patek (a movement shared by the RO 5402 and the Vacheron Constantin calibre 222). Even if the watch was large for 1976 standards it was quite subtle on the wrist, thanks to a 7.6mm thickness. After that, the Nautilus range evolved with the addition of ladies versions, smaller editions (ref. 3800) and later complications including date, power reserve, moonphase, chronograph, etc.

And here’s Genta’s two sketches, side by side – amazing, really, when you think about what the future held for both brands as a consequence of these design icons…

Now, I’m going to fast-forward to 2006, because that was the year that the 5711 was released as a very faithful hommage to the original Genta masterpiece. In fact, whilst there are many differences the really striking thing is how similar the two watches look…

All of the basics are still there: stainless steel octagonal case, two lateral hinges, an integrated bracelet, a mix of brushed and polished surfaces, a simple display on a grooved blue dial… however, you can also spot differences.

  • Case: the 5711 has a 3-part case (central container, bezel and caseback). The 3700 had a monobloc case, with central container / caseback module and bezel. The 5711 also features a sapphire caseback (screwed) which make the movement visible. Water resistance is 120m on both watches.
  • Hinges / ears: probably the main evolution in terms of design. On the 5711, the hinges / ears are slightly curved (following the curvature of the bezel) while straight on the 3700 (as all the watches from the 1976 – 2006 period)
  • Size: the 5711 has grown a bit, to 43mm (ear to ear) and 40mm (from 10 to 4), while the 3700 was 42mm. Proportions are still the same, with a rather “fat” bezel.
  • Thickness: The 5711 is slightly thicker, at 8.3mm versus 7.6mm for the 1976 edition. This is due to the different construction of the case, the sapphire caseback, the new movement and the new display. Still, the Nautilus is a thin piece and has kept its vocation of luxury, high-end sports watch.
  • Crown: large screw-down crown on the 5711. Smaller on the 3700.
  • Bracelet: The 5711 has central links that are rather flat, while the 3700 had rounded central links. This evolution greatly participates to the more modern feel you have when strapping on the 5711. Evolutions are also noticeable on the buckle, which used to be rather basic on the 3700 (a double folding blade) and now is a triple folding buckle on the 5711. The flip-lock piece on top of the buckle is maintained.
  • Dial: Both have a blue dial, with horizontal grooves. However, the 5711 has a more electric blue tone and a stronger gradient finish. The grooves on the 5711 are also wider and deeper. The logo has a new font and is placed higher on the dial. Indexes are now bolder (filled with super-luminova instead of tritium) and hare shaped towards the edges of the dial, to follow the shape of the bezel. Hands are also lager on the 5711.
  • Display: while the 3700 was a 2-hand time-and-date, the 5711 adds a central second hand – something that gives the indication of a new movement.
  • Movement: the Nautilus 5711 has the in-house calibre 324 SC (for seconde centrale or central second), while the 3700 relied on the JLC-based calibre 28-255C. The new movement is modern – 4Hz frequency, Gyromax balance, Spyromax balance spring – with a nice finishing (Geneva seal and later Patek Philippe seal – introduced at Baselworld 2009), 35 to 45 hours of power reserve, automatic winding via central rotor… The movement of the 5711 is slightly thicker than the movement of the 3700 (3.3mm vs. 3.05mm), which result in the 5711 to be thicker (also because of the extra-space required by the central second, in-between the dial and the crystal).
  • I’m going to stop there, because to start talking about the various models under the Nautilus banner would take far too long; suffice it to say that I like them a lot. In fact, I’ve been on the waiting list with one of the nicer ADs for some time, and a few weeks ago popped in to have a chat with the manageress, who’s absolutely lovely and always prepared to spend some time on customer relations! Anyway, she asked me why I wanted a Nautilus, and I left the shop half an hour later feeling that I’d done my chances of snagging one of these beasts no harm at all. Then, two days later, she called me to say that – whilst she couldn’t offer me the blue dial – she had a while dial that the intended owner was unable to complete on. Apparently our conversation had elevated me up the list, and later that day I was sitting inside the shop, drinking a glass of champagne and confirming that the seal on the packaging should be broken.

    I have to be honest and say that, at that moment, I felt both excitement and disappointment; excitement that the timing happened to have worked for me (meaning that I could say yes to the offer of the white dial), and disappointment that it wasn’t blue. I’m still on the list for the blue dial, but I have to say that after a month and a half of ownership I may just prefer the white. In any event, I’ve rejected the offer of a dial swap (for now!), and will just enjoy wearing it and see what the future holds. It really is a sublime watch, and whilst I never intended (or thought I’d be able to afford) to own two PPs, I really think of them as the best of both worlds; and absolute joy to own and wear, and a rock-solid investment for my retirement.

    And a wrist shot…