The usual year end SOTC

Well, I don’t really want to break with tradition, so here it is… the collection as it stands at the end of 2014. I won’t bore everyone with a long commentary, as my infamous incoming posts will suffice for that. Just a few words, though, to go with the pictures…

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400: I spent months thinking about this one, and in the end it took precedence over the Aquanaut I’d been planning to buy. I still don’t know whether that was the right decision, but I do know it’s a lovely watch; RO’s need to be handled to appreciate just how well they’re put together, and there’s a good reason why they’re considered by many to be the archetypal sports watch.

Moser Mayu: Quite simply, the nicest watch I’ve ever owned; I’ll go further and say that there isn’t a manufacture that produces watches with a more perfect finish. This one is white gold, and every time I put it on I’m completely gobsmacked.

Christian Van Der Klaauw Ceres 1974: CVDK has won the European Watch of The Year award 3 times in the last 5 years. There’s a good reason for this, and some of the astronomical (by which I mean cosmos-related, as opposed to expensive, although some are very expensive) complications the company produces are awe-inspiring. This is a bit left field for me, which is why I like it.

Dornblueth Kal 04.0: A more wearable size (for me, at least) than the better known models, the 04.0 was limited to just 75 pieces (50 in stainless steel, and 25 in rose gold) and all were produced in 2006. Dirk Dornblueth kindly wrote to me a while ago, clarifying that “the Kal. 04.0 movement includes 50% parts of an old GUB movement and 50% of the ebauche movement AS 1560 from the 1950’s”. Nice!

Glashutte Original Senator Perpetual Calendar: just a wonderfully simple, and wonderfully finished PC that for me ticks all the boxes when it comes to an affordable higher complication. The cleanness of the dial typifies Germanic watch design, and the movement is a wonder to behold.

Jaeger LeCoultre Master Calendar: I’ve had a few JLC’s, but seem to have settled on what – for me – is the archetypal reference. This is the current model, which (like the earlier Master Moon) has dispensed with the power reserve and has the logo back where it belongs. Once again, a very wearable size at 39mm.

Rolex Daytona: I was bloody nuts to sell the white gold Daytona I’d owned previously, but couldn’t find another at the right price and in the right condition. I do enjoy wearing this newer model, though, and find that it’s an ideal watch for pretty much all occasions. In fact, I usually reach for this when I’m not sure what I want to wear.

Panerai PAM337: It would be impossible to overstate how much I like this watch. It’s one of the 42mm models, and being a Radiomir is so wearable on a smaller wrist that it’s easy to forget that it’s actually the size that it is. I can dress it up with an alligator strap, or dress is down as it is in the photo below (on an Assolutemante)… it always looks fantastic and it always flies under the radar.

CWC Royal Navy Diver: This is a great weekend watch, and whilst I didn’t lust after them in a general sense I certainly did lust ofter this specific watch with it’s heat-treated insert. I nagged a chap from TZUK for about 18 months before I got it… but I got it!

Rolex 5513: This is a Mark IV Maxi from 1981, and quite simply it’s the nicest that I’ve seen with an immaculate dial and lovely thick case too. It went to a watchmaker friend for a new crystal to be fitted followed by the usual seal and pressure test, and he reckoned it was the nicest he’d seen too. On the wrist it’s just sublime.

Seiko 7549-7010: I’d had a lovely example of these vintage Tunas previously, and stupidly let it go. When the chance arose to acquire another beauty – this one again from 1978 – I didn’t waste the opportunity. This is another watch that received the highest praise from my watchmaker when he popped a NOS Hardlex crystal on it, and on the shark mesh it’s nothing short of perfect.

Seiko 6309-7040: I’ve had loads of 6309s and never manage to hang onto them for long; then, when I sell them, I always seem to buy another! This one dates from 1984; it has it’s original non-Suwa dial and hands, but is fitted with a Yobokies double domed crystal with internal AR (hence the reflections!). It also has an aftermarket large dot insert on at the moment, but I do have an original insert on a spare bezel too.

Right then – that’s it… far too many watches, really, but I rather like them all and am not planning on flipping anything. I’ve got a nice mix of dressy, sporty, old and new and reckon I’m pretty lucky!

“My god, it’s full of stars…”

Not that long ago, the thought of another vintage sports watch – probably Rolex, because for quite a while that was the focus of my collection – would have kept me awake at night. It’s a funny thing, though, how tastes evolve and over the last couple of years I’ve found myself becoming increasingly disillusioned with and by what had become the staple additions. I sold quite a few (beauties, I might add), and found over the same period that I was also beginning to question my refusal to buy anything current. For a while now, in fact, I’ve had a nice balance of new and old, and a pretty even mix of sports watches and alternatives that are far more dressy.

A couple of weeks ago I met a friend from TZ for a few beers, and I was really impressed by what he called his “left field” collection. I didn’t consciously spend time dwelling on this but I was aware that I could have been a little more… I don’t know, daring. It was while I was in that frame of mind that something popped up on SC that I simply fell in love with, and over the subsequent week or so I edged closer and closer to a deal without even the hint of a second thought about whether I was being sensible or not. I have to say that, after a couple of days of wear, I’m really delighted that I followed my instincts.

Christiaan ven der Klaauw is a Dutch watchmaker, and is also the only watchmaker in the Netherlands producing movement parts with his own hands. He was born, in 1944, in Leiden, the city where the Netherlands’ greatest scientist of all times, namesake and inspiration Christiaan Huygens started his studies in 1645. Van der Klaauw attended the School for Instrument Makers there, and some two decades after commencing his work as a watchmaker became known for his “astronomical watches” that he now shows regularly at Basleworld to much acclaim. The watches are handmade, and the finished movements (based on ebauches that I can’t identify yet, although I’ve asked him the question by email) are heavily modified and then coupled with in-house modules that provide the incredible astronomical complications that set his watches apart. You can see the current CVDK collection here, in fact.

The watch that I found irresistible is the Ceres 1974. The dial is an amazingly textured starburst, on which an appliqué CVDK logo appears at 12 with the most gorgeous moonphase window at 6; applied roman numerals, in blued steel, are used for the 1-3 and 9-11 markers but the remainder of the dial is completely clean. The finishing touch is blued steel hands, in a Breguet style. The overall effect is, to my mind, quite beautiful, albeit that many will no doubt feel that the styling is a little too unconventional. Horses for courses, and all that.

The Ceres 1974 is part of the “Collection of The Stars” and the specification is as follows:

Movement: CVDK1068, automatic winding, 25 jewels, 42 hour power reserve complication (CVDK Ceres 1974 module).
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, complication; moon phase.
Case: Stainless steel, ø 40 mm, sapphire crystal, sapphire crystal case-back.
Dial: Silver with blue indexes.
Strap: Blue alligator leather.
Buckle: Logo engraved steel folding clasp.

I’m not sure that anything other than handling this watch could ever do it justice, but my attempt in photos is below… no, it’s not the usual safe choice, but I love it all the more for just that reason.