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!
Anyway, a couple of shots…
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.
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).
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!
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.
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 🙂
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!
I posted the other day about how pee’d off I was to let my newly-acquired Dornblüth 99.1 go to a new home; as many have found before me, at 42mm it really does wear quite large, and – much as I liked it – I knew that in reality it was too big for me. Anyway, on Wednesday I met up with Kirk and Andrzej, some mates from TZ-UK, for one of our regular chats over a coffee in Radlett and Kirk bought along his Kal 04.0, just to rub salt into the wound.
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 (not sure exactly when, but I’m about to mail Dirk Dornblüth to ask him). I quote from the Interweb:
The 04.0 caliber is based upon a small cache of antique movement parts produced in Germany by GUB. Largely reworked and augmented with other parts (some manufactured in-house) by D.Dornblüth & Sohn, it bears these attributes: 29.4 mm diameter; 3.8 mm height; 18 rubies; power reserve 36 hours (+/- 5%); 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour; rose gold three-quarter plate with yellow gold hand-graving of manufactory name and serial number; Geneva stripe finish; retracing ratchet; double sunburst finish on the crown wheels; flat polished, heat-blued screws with beveled edges; Glucydur screw balance with Nivarox 1 spring; swan-neck fine adjustment on the hand-engraved balance cock. [Gold chatons too – Ed]
The applied numerals are black steel whilst the hands are blued, and all in all it really is a wonderful watch. I’d been looking at/reading about them for a couple of years, but after realising how scarce they are pretty much gave up on finding one. Just trying it on was actually an unexpected pleasure, so I gave Kirk a withering look and advised him in no uncertain terms that my name was as good as on it.
Fast forward to 8.30 yesterday evening, and I had a message from Kirk. It took me a minute or two to realise he was actually offering me the watch, another ten minutes to transfer the funds and less than an hour to meet him and take the package – complete with some rather nice Lindt chocolates – from his hands. In truth, the timing isn’t great as I only recently stretched myself a bit to land a lovely JLC that I’d been after for some time. However, these just never seem to get sold, and I reckoned it was now, or never. Now appealed a bit more 🙂
These are obviously a bit rushed, but I’ll follow up with some more over the weekend…
I’ve been tinkering a bit of late, so I thought I’d post a few shots taken with what may prove to be my default set-up. This consists of:
The flash was set to manual and used on 1/4 power, with the flash heads on 1/2 and full power respectively. The camera was also on manual, set to f/22, 1/200sec and ISO 200; I didn’t meter it but a couple of test shots left me happy. This is what it looked like…
And these are the shots taken today, with just a little sharpening and vignetting in Photoshop…
Feel free to post your thoughts, if any.
I remember about three years ago I was commenting on TURF that, amongst the mid-range watches that would make a nice change from the more usual fayre, Glashutte Original and Dornblueth had to be amongst the leading contenders. Since then I’ve managed to handle/enjoy/own quite a few of the former, but I have to admit that Dornblueth fell off the radar slightly, aside from when I saw some of the amazing photos that have been posted by the likes of Jocke and others. Anyway, I seem to have settled on the 42mm mark as a size that I rather like of late so when someone I know from TZ-UK listed his unworn 99.1 for sale I thought it might just fit the bill as a light-dialled all purpose watch that was also very different from anything I had.
The Dornblueth 99.1 comes in a 42mm case (manufactured by a supply partner who’s identity is a closely guarded secret, and who is not a supplier of cases to any other watchmakers), with a height of 11.5mm (in other words, it’s a substantial watch); the slightly domed sapphire crystal is AR coated on the underside. The movement starts life as a Unitas 6498 but Dirk modifies it to such a huge extent that it’s not surprising many people assume it to be in-house. There’s a long list of parts that are replaced – I was trying to hunt down some info on this from Mike Stuffler on WUS, but couldn’t find the post that I wanted and first read a couple of years ago. In any event, the movement’s a manual wind, beating at 18,000vph and providing a 50 hour reserve. The three-quarter plate is hand engraved in yellow gold and plated in rose gold, with a Côtes de Genève finish. Other nice touches are gold chatons, blued screws and a swan neck regulator, and overall the quality of finish is simply superb.
I was lucky in that the seller had originally ordered applied blue Arabic markers to match the gorgeous handset, and the movement plate is free of any personalisation. The only thing it doesn’t have is the quattro arret function to hack the movement, but at another €460 or thereabouts it’s not exactly a cheap option. All in all, I’m absolutely delighted, and whilst I haven’t (yet!) managed to get close to the quality of Jocke’s photos here are a few that didn’t come out too badly. As always, I’ll try to take some more when I’m less rushed.