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.

More of those naughty incomings ;)

Okay, I’m not going to ramble on this time (cue collective sigh of relief). However, if you fancy a bit of a read about the iconic Fifty Fathoms you could do worse than have a look here; I’ve had two previously, in fact, the other one being the DLC’d “Dark Knight”. I really have missed them both – I only sold them because I told myself they were a little too large for me – so when an opportunity arose to buy the limited edition (just 500 of this model released globally) Tribute to Fifty Fathoms I was quick to take the seller – a mate from TZ-UK – out for a beer or two, get him drunk and seal a deal.

The Blancpain ref. 5015B-1130-52A shares both case and movement with the standard Fifty Fathoms that I wrote about in the post linked above. Aside from the ‘No Radiations’ symbol on the dial, the differences relate to the bezel and dial configurations. The Tribute version features a bezel with almost an identical appearance to the original Fifty Fathoms “No Radiations” from the late 60s ; that is, a slightly different font for the numerals and a minute track that continues all the way around, as you’d find on a Milsub. The dial dispenses with all four of the arabic numbers, and also features round super-luminova markers instead of applied arrow-shaped markers, together with a date aperture at 3 o’clock with white date wheel (the standard FF has the date window at 4.30, and a black date wheel). Obviously, it’s horses for courses as to which you prefer, but I love this one – the changes to the dial work for me (especially the no-rads symbol) and the LE nature of it adds a little to the ownership experience.

Anyway, here’s a relatively quick and dirty photo, albeit that I lost my battle with the uber-reflective domed crystal (for now!!!).

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The other watch that joined the fold recently is one of the new Seiko Turtles – this is the SRP779K1 with the black dial and pepsi bezel. I actually bought it in Tenerife whilst I was buying Bea a really nice Certina chrono – the guy in the shop offered me a reasonable deal on the two, and I’d wanted to try one of these since they were released. I’m not going to say much more about it, save that these watches are a reissue of the wonderful 6306/6309 vintage Seiko divers from the 70s/80s. Now, after ruining the rubber strap that it came on, and subsequently buying the OEM bracelet from another mate on TZ, I thought I’d share a photo of the matching navy and red two-piece Zulu that arrived from Sweden a couple of days ago… as you can see, it’s a lovely match and serves to pretty up what is essentially a very utilitarian design.

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So, two very different watches, but both very welcome additions to the collection. I’d better stop now 🙂

A bloody good week!

It really has – two amazing incomings, and two yearnings put to bed once and for all!

First of all, a Speedmaster. Now, I have a long history with these watches having owned a multitude in the past, culminating in a wonderful Ed White from 1967. I sold that during a very difficult period in my life when my mind was all over the place, and having tried unsuccessfully to agree a “current” value with the member who bought it from me I found it was then sold to someone else here (identity unknown and the least said the better, I suspect). Anyway, I tried (and flipped) a FOIS, having hoped it would scratch that particular itch; and then set about buying back my old ’71 145.022 from the present owner. I would have bought it too, but then – mid-negotiations – a friend on TZ-UK kindly offered me his gorgeous 3594.50 Broadarrow. I’d wanted one of those since I first laid eyes on them, and a deal was completed in minutes.

The 3594.50 is the watch that Omega marketed as the Speedmaster ’57 “Replica” (yes, really). In fact, it was the middle of three iterations of what started life as the CK295, housing the venerable 321 movement.The original was such a beauty that I think a photo is warranted at this point, courtesy of Fratello Watches…

The 3594.50 was released in 1997, and was produced until 2003. It differed from the regular 3590.50 Speedmaster Professional of the time in a number of ways, though. It had an applied logo, Broadarrow steel hands, a stainless steel bezel and a “non-Professional” dial; the cases, however, were identical.

Another difference to the standard Speedy Pro was the case back – the 3594.50 just had the seahorse logo and the word “Speedmaster” (like it’s predecessor, in fact). It had a Lemania 1861 ticking away inside, and early versions came on a bracelet – initially without pushers on the clasp – although later it was released on a calf strap similar to that on today’s FOIS.

The modern version of the ’57 trio is, of course, the current co-axial, which is nice enough but something of a lump IMO. It uses the cal. 9300 and – with its display back – typifies the trends that have more latterly defined Omega design. I think it looks great in photos, but far less great on the wrist… maybe that’s just me, though.

Anyway, some photos…

The second arrival really is a bit special, and culminates from my love of the Seiko MM300. I’ve had a few of those (!) and when I bought – very recently – the LE SBDX012 I did say that the only watch that would knock it from it’s perch was the 6159-7001 (a genuine grail amongst vintage dive watches, and not something that I ever expected to find). This was the first of Seiko’s “Professional” divers, made for just a couple of years from 1968-9; in fact, the next Professional diver was then some 7 years away in the shape of Tuna 6159-7010… another hugely important watch, in fact. Inside was the high-beat 6159 movement also found in Grand Seikos of the time, and this was housed in a monocoque case that we now see in the MM300 series.

The 6159-7001 that I’m wearing as I type is a seriously good example. Showing appropriate signs of use on the case (and it won’t be polished, ever) it’s been through my friend Duncan’s magical hands; in fact, you can read about his work on this watch here. Aside from the various NOS parts that were fitted, the really interesting thing is the “resist” dial… very scarce indeed, and all the more collectable because of that (yes, even though the dial would originally have been a “proof” – they’re far more common, it seems). It’s also quite mesmering to watch the sweep of the second hand as it traverses the dial at 36000bph; all too often the old divers had a much lower 21,600 bph (or even 18,800ph)… wonderful, really, and so elegant.

I have to say that to land one of these at all is fortunate – I’ve missed a couple in the past and had pretty much given up, despite expressing my interest on here more than once. However, to finally find one in this condition is nothing short of remarkable, and I’m over the moon with it. On the wrist it’s absolutely jaw-dropping, although I have to say that I seem to have failed miserably at conveying the real beauty of it in the photos below. I’ll take some more when I get some time (it was all a bit of a rush today, unfortunately).

See what I mean when I said it was a good week?

6th time lucky, or…

Perhaps it was just meant to be… me and the MM300, I mean.

Believe it or not, I’ve had 5 SBDX001s. I don’t actually know why I sold them all, because I do love the damn things… maybe it’s just been that I’ve had too many watches at the time, and that they’re not particularly… glamorous? Whatever the reason, I’ve always known that I’d have another and keep it although I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to the limited edition ‘003 and ‘012.

The SBDX012 is a 50th Anniversary model, limited to 1000 pieces; they’re already quite hard to find, and I’m sure they’ll only go up in value over the coming years. In truth, they’re not radically different to the ‘003, save for the use of the gold accents for the bezel markings and the text “Marine Master Professional” on the dial. (From Seiko’s site, translated by google “the character on the bezel is subjected to a golden finish by anodic oxidation treatment of laser… By the electrolytic treatment anodised material, a surface treatment for generating the artificial oxide film. Colour is born by the refractive index of the light…”) They also come with both the steel bracelet and the rubber strap with matching gold plated buckle and keeper, whereas the ‘003 comes with a strap only. Oh, and one other difference that I really like – the ‘012 has a splash of red on the second hand, as a lovely tribute to its predecessors.

Much has been said about the bracelet in the past, but I’ve always found it excellent. Photos tend to show what appears to be a gap at the case, but this is merely a shadow from the faceted lugs, and in truth it has fitted to perfection on every watch I’ve owned. The non-signed crown is of no significance to me whatsoever, and the only thing I’d change in an ideal world is the crystal material – it’s Hardlex, and I’d sooner have sapphire. The movement is the Grand Seiko 8L35, as it’s always been in the MM300; beating at 28,800vph and rated at an unregulated -10/+15 spd out of the box. (They can, of course, be regulated but the one on my wrist as I type this is running at +4 seconds and has been doing so consistently over the last few days.) It’s worth noting, though, that – unlike the ‘001 – the movement used in the ‘012 features MEMS technology. What is MEMS?

“MEMS is an abbreviation for micro-electro-mechanical systems—a state-of-the-art processing technology used to manufacture semiconductors and other high-precision components. MEMS differs from the old metal processing methods of pressing, cutting, and polishing. Instead, shapes are made using photolithography (a process similar to developing photos using light-sensitive chemicals), on top of which a thick plating is deposited using electroforming technology. This processing method allows the manufacturing of complex shapes with greater accuracy than cutting, and also produces smoothly finished surfaces. In addition, hard materials can be used for parts while slightly adjusting the shape to keep the weight down, thereby greatly improving the accuracy and durability of the watch parts.”

Aside from MEMS, and (incidentally) the Diashield-protected case, what’s really won me over with this watch is the gold accents on dial, hands and insert… it looks absolutely wonderful but at times – when the light is right – it dazzles. I’ve tried to pick this up in the photos below, but have probably failed miserably. Suffice it to say my ceramic Sea Dweller is now up for sale, because this won’t be going anywhere.

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’s an illness!

I think this is about my 6th 6309 – when I don’t have one I want one, and when I have one I keep it for a while and then move it on. Oh well…

This one is a non-American market 7040, dating 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. You can see that it has a lovely patina, and the other nice thing is that it had a movement service and new gaskets less than a year ago.

I only ever wear 6309s on Zulus, and I’m always swapping them over for a different look. In fact, as soon as this shot was taken the cherry came off and a black went on. When I look at it, it’s hard to work out why I ever sell them.

A bit of Sunday (SOTC) fun

I’ve had a few messages suggesting that I haven’t done one of these for a while, and having just moved on my JLC it seemed like a good time to take stock. Eight is a couple more than I’m comfortable with in all honesty, but I can’t see any of these going any time soon so I suppose I’ll have to get used to the it.

The strange thing is that I seem to enjoy wearing the Seiko and CWC more than any of the others, probably because I don’t have to think about it once they’re on my wrist… that should probably tell me something. The Daytona has been the biggest surprise, because it’s just so versatile that it always seems “right” when I put it on; and the AP is as wonderful as I hoped it would be, but unfortunately I have to wait a few weeks for them to reopen in Switzerland in order to get a 1.5 link for the bracelet (it’s very marginally tight at the moment, or alternatively a bit too loose). It’s also quite nice that I’ve got the various bases pretty much covered; old, new, chrono, moonphase, GMT, three-handers, manual, auto, etc.

Anyway, here’s a single montage of all of them.