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 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 🙂

More vintage loveliness

The biggest selling Rolex isn’t, as many believe, the Submariner. In fact it isn’t a sports watch at all – it’s the venerable Datejust. First released in 1947, this is the watch that – for most people – symbolises the brand, and before this week I’d already owned five different models. All of them were lovely, and I’ve missed having one in my collection for some time now.

The 1601 is one of the most classic of all, with it’s plexi crystal, non-quickset date and open sixes and nines on the date wheel. This one, from 1970, will have been one of the first to house a hacking movement (a calibre 1575, even though it will almost certainly have 1570 stamped on the bridge); it also has a “wide-boy” non-luminous dial, which I absolutely love. I’ve actually had it for a few days now, and have worn it almost constantly with both a suit and with jeans. it manages to bridge the gap between dressy and casual completely effortlessly, and whist it’s relatively small by todays standards at 36mm, it wears really well on my 6.75″ wrist.

Condition-wise, it’s about as minty as a 45 year old watch could be, and is keeping time within a few seconds a day. I’ve posted a few WTB’s for a jubilee bracelet but to be honest it looks so nice on leather that I don’t think I’ll bother. Its wearing a Hirsch Regent alligator strap in these photos, and although I’ve tried a few others this is by far my favourite.

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!

It took a while, but…

I’ve always loved the Sea-Dweller. In fact, I’ve had a couple of magnificent Great Whites as well as both drilled and non-drilled versions of the 16600; I’ve even had a gorgeous stardust Triple 6. For a desk diver like me they’re a bit daft really, but the very things that polarise opinion when it comes to the Sub v SD debate epitomise why I’ve enjoyed owning them. For that reason, I don’t intend waffling on about the merits or otherwise of the SD 4000 over the Subc, because everyone has a view already and that view won’t change on the back of my comments. I do think the changes are worth a mention in the context of new v old SD, though.

Firstly, the case. I don’t know why Rolex decided that they needed a mid-size in the line-up but personally I think they’ve got it just right. The lugs on the 4000 are probably halfway between the old style of the 16600 and the newer maxi cases. This has the effect of giving the watch greater bulk and wrist presence without “squaring off” the shape like some of the other models in the current line-up. I think they’ve got it spot on, actually, but these things are clearly pretty subjective.

Secondly, much has been made of the matt maxi dial but to be honest the difference in finish is fairly subtle. Sometimes you can see clearly that it has a matt finish, but mostly the black is deep and rich, and not much different to the gloss dial of the 16600. The maxi sized plots are a huge improvement, though, as to my mind those on the previous model (and on the 16610, for that matter) are now looking far too small in the face of recent changes.

Finally, the ceramic bezel is a big change for sure, but whilst the look is completely different to the old aluminium inserts it’s really not “blingy” at all, as has been suggested more than once. In fact, in certain light it takes on a grey hue and almost looks matt itself, much like the bezel on the MM300 if anyone can picture that. I think this is a clear upgrade, as is the newer style glidelock clasp on the bracelet.

The only thing I can’t quite get my head around is the design of the end-links. I’ve taken a couple of shots to show the issue clearly, but the end-links are proud of the lugs where they curve downwards and are also on a different plane on the outside to the section in the centre. All in all it’s a bit confused, but needless to say it’s unnoticeable when the watch is on the wrist, and I’m being really picky.

I suspect that those who like the SD as a concept with still like the latest incarnation, and those that don’t will unlikely be swayed by the changes. I’m certainly very happy with it, though, and reckon it’s a perfect diver/sports watch and a close to perfect all-rounder. A few shots below, of course, which hopefully highlight the changes and demonstrate what I was trying to describe with regard to the end-links. In short, a bloody good watch.

And an iPhone shot from earlier today…