A Drug Dealer's Daytona and Other Watches for Sale

And a particular 1016 to avoid

A Rare Patek Chronograph and a Rolex Ref. 1016 to Avoid

It’s the doldrums of summer, which means there’s not a ton of watch industry news. Sure, Seiko re-introduced its Seiko 5 Sports collection, but other than that, not much is happening. So, this is a special “Sales Corner”-only edition of our weekly newsletter, looking at what’s selling at a few auctions and elsewhere around the web.

First up, a few lots from Fellows UK.

One to Watch

Patek Phillipe Reference 1579

Fellows, a UK-based auction house, is hosting its Watch Sale on August 13, featuring some 400 lots. The “best” lot up for auction is a yellow gold Patek Phillipe Reference 1579 with a chronograph movement that doesn’t really function.

The Reference 1579 was made from 1943 to 1964, and is notable for its larger 36mm case size and unusually shaped “spider” lugs. While in production for approximately 21 years, only about 470 pieces were made; an estimated 250 of these were in the yellow gold we see here. As you might imagine, the platinum version is extremely rare and collectible, achieving hammer prices in the millions on the rare occasion they actually come up for auction. Meanwhile, well-maintained gold examples can achieve healthy six figure hammer prices. But, as is the case with vintage Patek, stainless steel is even rarer: there are only 7 known examples of the Ref. 1579 case in steel, though Patek uncovered some new old stock cases in the 2000s.

Inside the Ref. 1579 is the manual wind caliber 13'' 130, a modified Valjoux 23 ebauche. Unfortunately, the movement of the example here will need a servicing, as the chronograph hands do not reset. However, the rest of the movement does function. Additionally, the lugs have lost some of their angular shape and the dial has some scratches and discoloration throughout.

All in all, it’s a 70-year-old watch with the scars to show it; it’s a bit of a project, but nothing a collector with a good watchmaker wouldn’t relish to take on.

Estimate: £55,000 to £75,000

One to Avoid

A Mis-matched Explorer Reference 1016

Listen, sometimes these auction houses have trouble filling up a catalog. And when a Rolex with a sexy reference number comes in, it’s hard to pass it up.

Unfortunately, with popular models like a Rolex Explorer Reference 1016, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And while this one has a low estimate, I’m not sure I’d spend more than my lunch money on it.

First, the serial number places this watch’s birthdate in 1962; however, this watch has a caliber 1570 movement in it. Unfortunately, Rolex didn’t starting making Explorers with a the 1570 movement until the late 1960s. The correct movement for this Explorer would be the caliber 1560.

Next, the dial has been badly repainted. Honestly, it’s hard to tell exactly what happened without better photos, but it’s clearly not good: like someone used white paint and then didn’t really let it dry. The crystal is noticeably beat up, though that’s the least of my worries with this watch.

Fellows makes all of this very clear in their description. And I don’t totally begrudge them for putting it up for auction either; rather make a few bucks than throw it in the trash and tell some consignor their watch wasn’t worth anything.

But, it’s unfortunate that someone might drop £7,500 for this Explorer just because it’s a splashy and desirable reference number. If there’s something about this watch that draws you to it on a personal level, that’s fine. But don’t buy this (or any other mediocre Reference 1016) just because it’s a hot vintage Rolex reference and you can’t afford the going rate for a minty example. It’s fine if you can’t afford a perfect, honest Reference 1016 (I can’t either); but don’t buy the bargain version. Look at something like a “neo-vintage” Reference 14270 instead.

Lot 266 estimate: £5,500 to £7,500

Read the full previous for a look at a Tudor Monte Carlo and an early Heuer Autavia

Full Preview

Other News

Seiko is bringing back the Seiko 5 Sports

The movements are all Seiko’s automatic Caliber 4R36, with 24 jewels, a 41 hour power reserve and a hacking second hand. Better movement, no more ugly Seiko 5 badge — even the Seiko 5 is going up market.

Auctioning Off a Drug Dealer’s Daytona

UK-based Wilsons Auctions is holding an auction on August 14 to auction off over £2.3 million of goods seized from a London-based drug dealer. In addition to some red bottoms, a villa in Spain, and other things people rap about, there are a handful of watches up for auction. Among the lots are a Rolex Datejust II ‘Wimbledon’ Reference 116333, a large 41mm Datejust with a beautiful slate dial and green accents on its markers, and a big ass Breitling Emergency Reference A73321with a beacon for calling a search crew.

But the best watch of the bunch is an Everose (pink) gold Rolex Daytona Reference 116505. There’s something badass about a black dial with a gold watch, even more so when it’s a Daytona. Maybe it’s the John Player Special vibe.

Inside this Daytona is Rolex’s COSC-certified caliber 4130, featuring a 72-hour power reserve. The caliber 4130 is the successor to the caliber 4030, which was the modified Zenith chronograph movement Rolex used in the previous generation of the Daytona. The 4130 was thus the first true in-house caliber inside a Daytona. It’s perhaps most impressive for its practicality: it contains just 201 separate parts, a 60 percent drop compared to its predecessor movement. As a point of comparison, Patek’s base self-winding chronograph movement contains 308 parts.

With the popularity of the stainless steel, ceramic bezel Daytona, don’t be surprised if these continue to see a rise in popularity — especially if the trend moves away from stainless steel watches and back to gold watches. The MSRP on this Daytona is $37,450.

Sales Corner

Omega Chronostop Ref. 145.009.

Triad Vintage has a vintage Omega Chronostop in its eBay shop. The Chronostop, first released in 1966, features Omega’s caliber 865, a 21,600 bph manual wind movement used only in this model. Omega introduced the Chronostop as a cheaper option in its collection; as such, the only complication is the chronograph function with the sweeping orange seconds hand, which only counts up to a minute. It’s not super practical, but it looks cool. Triad Vintage is asking $1,149 for this vintage Omega.

Oversize Tavannes Chronograph.

Barcelona-based vintage dealer Mim and Rocket has a 1940s Tavannes chronograph on its site right now. It’s a classic, extremely clean chronograph typical of the era, except for its large, 38mm case size. With the extra room, the dial has both a tachymeter and a telemeter on the outer ring. Inside is a modified Venus 150 movement.

Tavannes Watch Company is more commonly known as Cyma. The Swiss-based companies decided to merge in the early 1900s. Cyma was primarily a watch assembly company, and Tavannes focused on making chronographs and some other complicated watches. The merger was born of synergy, as a Wall Street earnings call might put it today.

Ticks & Tocks

😂 14 of the best watches spotted in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. 🙃 Hodinkee’s Bring a Loupe features a Birks RCAF Chronograph that I highlighted back in March (now $4,500, down from $4,900). 📺 WatchBox on the tourbillon. Looking for your next summer read? Here’s 100s of free ebooks. 🤖 The New Yorker on the lonely world of moderating Hacker News. 📚The history of the Patek Phillipe Calatrava. 📉 Farfetch buys Off-White and friends, and shares plunged.

Thanks for reading!


Questions/comments/tips? Just respond to this email (and please tap the heart above to like it!).

Meme of the Week:

You hate to see it. From @horological_dicktionary.

Your Next Watch Is Designed By: Data?

A perfectly unpolished Ref. 175 GMT-Master


Your Next Watch Is Designed By…Your Favorite Website?

This week, GQ had a feature analyzing the boom in private label brands coming from dominant online marketplaces: everyone from Amazon and Target to Mr. Porter and Union is using customer and purchasing data to analyze the most popular items, then manufacturing those items themselves to make an even better (i.e. more optimized, according to data) product, which it can sell at a healthier margin. It’s not like this is a new phenomenon, but as ecommerce companies collect more data than retailers of generations previous, it’s perhaps a bigger trend than it’s ever been.

GQ’s article coincided with Farfetch and Zenith’s collaboration on a limited edition Defy Classic, which I couldn’t help but feel was informed by data. It’s technically a women’s watch, but what does gender even mean anymore? The point is, it’s an inoffensive 41mm size (small lugs make the Defy wear a little smaller), white ceramic watch (white watches seem to be in, so this Defy Classic is riding that trend) at an accessible $7,5000 price point. Further, it’s a skeletonized movement, but not obnoxiously so — no Richard Mille here, nothing too blingy. The watch seems like it’s designed to hit every trend, making it the perfect crossover between luxury watchmaking and streetwear, Farfetch’s sweet spot.

And that’s fine, but at some point the menswear world has enough camp collar shirts for the season. We need someone to tell us what’s new and next; not what’s already hot, and then optimizing that with data to arrive at the perfect iteration of that trend. In watches, we need the next Genta or Newson (see below for a chat with a Nomos product designer). Established Swiss brands have become really good at “sustaining innovations”; that is, small iterations on existing models to sell a few more watches and appeal to a few more consumers each year. But not enough are doing things that are truly disruptive. Just look at this year’s Baselworld releases.

Listen, at some point we’ve had enough white t-shirts, minimalist leather shoes, or generic field watches (yea, come at me Hranek, but I don’t see you wearing your Serica watch on your IG feed).

But maybe that’s what Kanye and Shia are for.

Other News

Interviews with Two of the Biggest Independent Brands

An interview with H. Moser’s CEO.

Eduoard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser & Cie, is a little bit like the brand he’s created: stylish, sophisticated, smart, with an ever-present sense of humor. Time and Tide sat down with him to talk about critiquing the Swiss watch industry with the Swiss Alp watch, and the future of the brand. And he feels good about where H. Moser is positioned:

We’re either the biggest independent, or the smallest of the established brands. I prefer the latter. We’ve done well to define our product. Before 2012, the problem was we could have been any brand. Now we showcase our dials, cases and all the Moser details. We’re the funky Patrimony or the funky Calatrava. That’s our sweet spot.

An interview with Nomos product designer: Democratic luxury and where to begin a watch design.

Christopher over at Nomos Watch Club recently paid a visit to Berlinerblau, the in-house design shop of Nomos Glashutte, where he interviewed Thomas, a Nomos product designer. There are a bunch of takeaways, but to highlight a few:

  • The design of a watch always starts with the caliber at Nomos.

  • There are no complications in the works at Nomos (that they divulged). Nomos takes the interaction between its in-house calibers and clean design seriously, which is why, for example, they had to completely rethink the date complication to develop the Tangente 41 Neomatik Update.

  • Questions to ask when designing a watch: Who would wear this watch? What would it be it it were a car, a piece of furniture, a men’s shoe?

I love this photo of typography. If this is what gets printed out, imagine the work that went into arriving at these “final” 15 options:

Sales Corner

Mid-Century Chronographs and a “Perfect” GMT-Master

Movado M90 Chronograph with Breguet Numerals.

We’ve spent time going in-depth on the Movado M95 before (For Your Reference), but not the M90. Like the M95, it was a trailblazing chronograph in the middle of the century; it used cases from Patek Phillipe’s case manufacturer François Borgel, meaning these M90 share many traits with Pateks of the era. Similar shape, pushers, etc.

Menta Watches now has an extremely minty example on offer. While you can find these for much cheaper in the depths of eBay, they won’t be in the sharp, clean condition this one is in. Additionally, the Bregeut numeral examples are more difficult to come by than others. Price: $13,000.

Gallet Multi-Chron 12.

The Gallet Multi-Chron is a quintessential mid-century chronograph. Three-register dial with three colors, historic Swiss brand, the list goes on. Gallet made these in two caliber variations, using either the Valjoux 72 or the Excelsion Park 40 (EP40). As you might imagine, the Valjoux-powered versions are more desirable (with the price tag to match).

On offer from Omega user ChicagoFrog (instagram: @bazamu) is an EP40 Gallet Multi-Chron. What it doesn’t have (Valjoux movement), it easily makes up for in condition. The white dial looks extremely clean with honest aging to the lume offering a nice patina. The watch has also been serviced, so no concerns there. Asking price: $3,650.

Rolex GMT-Master 1675.

Eric Wind over at Wind Vintage has a Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 from 1972 up on his website right now. In the very posting, he’s calling it “unpolished”, and if Eric uses that term, you’re damn sure the edges on this Rolex are as good as you’re going to see. So take a mental picture of the below and etch it in your brain. Just look at the thick, sharp lugs (not rounded); that’s the case shape you should be looking for on vintage Rolex sports watch like the GMT-Master.

This later iteration has a matte dial, creamy lume and faded bezel, and its original bracelet. Price: $22,000

Ticks & Tocks

🎥 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood miscasts a watch. 🔦 Revolution goes in-depth on the history of lume. 😇 Ethical fashion is on the rise. 🍹 Dudes love White Claw, too. NY Times’ 52 places to visit in 2019 (it’s already August, so pressure's on). The birth of the semicolon.

In Chicago: The hottest restaurants in August.

Thanks for reading!


Questions/comments/tips? Just respond to this email (and please tap the heart above to like it!).

Meme of the Week:


Swatch Struggles; Scarcity as Strategy

Evil Nina v. Paul Newman: Who Wins?


Swatch Group Sales Down in First Half of 2019 as It Takes Action Against Grey Market

Last week, Swatch Group reported first half of 2019 are down 3.7% compared to the year previous, with income down 11.3%. It’s been a tough first half of the year for Swatch Group and the Swiss watch industry more broadly, especially as the Hong Kong market saw significant declines due to political turmoil.

Additionally, Swatch Group reported that it’s been engaged in “uncompromising action against grey market dealers, especially in Europe, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South America, at the expense of a short-term negative impact on sales in the first half year in the triple-digit millions. In the long term, this will lead to positive effects, especially in the major markets.”

Swatch Group is choosing to clamp down on supply, even closing accounts to combat dealers dumping unsold inventory onto the grey market. When Richemont dealt with the same issue recently, it instead decided to buy back inventory (and then destroying that inventory), spending some half a billion euros in the process. Listen, artificially restricting the supply of goods is part of the luxury business that has gotten a ton of press over the last few years (Louis Vuitton burning its bags, etc.) and Swatch Group is figuring out how to address the “problem.”

With the rise of secondary markets and resellers, people are more interested than ever in buying things pre-owned and at prices that are significantly discounted from MSRP, and the internet enables consumers to shop around the world for the best price. Depending on who you ask, it’s a moral, environmental, or simply an economical issue. No matter who you ask though, it’s a problem that’s not going anywhere, and brands will have to be honest with themselves about their brand’s value (i.e. how much should that Tissot really cost at retail?) if they want to capture consumers buying new products. Sure, you can sue The RealReal, alleging its selling fake Chanel bags, but that’s not a business model, that’s reactionary. Brands will have to think of interesting, innovative ways to get people to buy new products (e.g. “drop culture”, something streetwear brands have mastered), or find ways to partner with these ecommerce companies and marketplaces for long-term sustainability.

Or, Richemont and Swatch Group’s stable of brands could look to their largest competitor for ideas. More on that next.

Full Article

Business News

Horolonomics: Scarcity as Strategy in Horology

Rescapement subscriber Brendan (in his new blog, Horolonomics) wrote an article about Rolex’s scarcity strategy with steel sports watches. His conclusion?

As the pace of innovation increases the luxury watch industry will face growing uncertainty and ever-diminishing practical motivations for buying a watch. Since rationing is a solution to these challenges we can conclude that it is here to stay.

So you might be waiting for that Ref. 116500 (and whatever Daytona comes after) for quite some time. Why? Well, Rolex is involved in rationing, which solves two big problems for them.

First, as Brendan puts it “An $8,000 watch is a huge expense. Buyers need a lot of reasons to pay that much.” Those who buy at MSRP are given that reason: shortages mean that $8,000 watch is worth $10,000 on the secondary market. Rolex effectively gives the buyer $2,000 ($10,000 value minus MSRP), an immediate 25% return on their purchase (note these are just Brendan’s hypothetical numbers; some real-world markups are even bigger). Earning 25% just by patiently sitting on a waitlist helps to overcome a conservative customer’s reluctance to buy a luxury item with no practical use.

Second, Brendan points out that uncertainty is also a significant factor in the luxury watch industry: “Even conservative brands like Rolex experiment with watch designs and features.” Some workout well, while others like AP’s Code 11.59, flop.

Rationing helps manufacturers and ADs cope with this uncertainty. Would you like a better position on the waitlist? Take some of those undesirable models off the hands of an AD. Rationing is an insurance policy against unpopular designs.

In other words, there are only so many Kevin O’Learys in the world who will blow their money on stupid shit like a Code 11.59 no matter what. Brands have to trick everyone else into buying their “innovative” watches.

In addition, Brendan points out that strict Swiss labor laws that limit the work week to around 40 hours also means Rolex would have trouble expanding production capacity even if it wanted to.

And lest you think Brendan is some clueless forum prognosticator: he’s a PhD-trained economics professor. So let us know what you think of his first article, and be sure to stay tuned for more in-depth analysis from him.

Sales Corner

Christies Keystone Collection Auction Preview

Two great chronographs that are more similar than different: would you pay 10x for the one on the right?

Christie’s is collaborating with The Keystone to present “The Keystone Collection”, an online auction with over 200 offerings, beginning July 30. The Keystone is a Beverly Hills based dealer focused on rare and vintage watches, typically featuring a nice mix of modern and vintage watches across all price points. The collection offered here exemplifies that, with highlights including a rare Patek Philippe Reference 725 perpetual calendar pocket watch signed Tiffany & Co., a Rolex Reference 16758 GMT-Master ‘SARU’, and an A. Lange & Sohne, limited edition pink gold Lange 1 tourbillon.

Christie’s “The Keystone Collection” Auction runs from July 30 until August 13. Let’s take a look at a few of the highlights.

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman Reference 6241.

Is it even an auction if there’s not a Paul Newman Daytona? The Reference 6241 is what we saw Ellen Degeneres wearing on her Netflix special Relatable last year. The Reference 6241 has pump pushers (as opposed to screw-down pushers), and measures 37mm in diameter with a Valjoux 72 movement beating inside. The 6241 is considered slightly more rare and desirable than its brother, the Reference 6239, which has a steel bezel (not black).

The Reference 6241 fetches prices well into the six figures at auctions. Bob’s Watches has a historical chart of the prices of all Paul Newman references at auction, showing a $500,000 hammer price for a 6241 in 2017. That’s a bit of an outlier, but prices regularly reach $300,000.

This particular example has clearly been polished, and the condition report says there are three nicks on the case back (signs of being opened), and the original bezel also has a few nicks.

The white outer ring of the dial has discoloration, which appears to be water damage, especially between 2 and 4 o’clock. There’s also some spotting on the sub-dials, particularly at 3 o’clock. In general, while the dial has turned a nice tropical color, it’s also lost some of its pop; eg., the red ‘Daytona’ above the 6 o’clock subdial isn’t quite as red as it once was.

Finally, this Reference 6241 comes on an Oyster bracelet, and while the bracelet is a correct 7205, one end link is a 361 and the other a 57. This is incorrect according to Rolex researchers.

All in all, it’s a nice example of a Reference 6241, but not perfect. That’s why it’s headlining an online auction in the middle of August and not sitting on the cover of a catalogue during the fall watch season. Nothing wrong with that, just proof that perfect, minty examples are hard to come by nowadays.

Lot 222 estimate: $140,000-$180,000

Universal Geneve ‘Evil Nina’ Reference 885103.

Different watch, same movement. This Universal Geneve chronograph is clearly of the same era as the Paul Newman Daytona: Same reverse-panda three-register dial, same black tachy bezel, even the same Valjoux 72 movement inside. And like the Daytona, this one’s even got a celebrity connection. While almost all vintage Universal Geneve is beloved by collectors right now, no model is more so than than the “Nina Rindt” a classic 1960s era chronograph made famous by racing driver Jochen Rindt’s wife, Nina. She was often spotted wearing it on a bund strap — Newman style — and collectors picked up on this over the years, leading to its rise in popularity. Nina’s preferred model was a Reference 885103 panda dial chronograph (black subdials on cream dial), with a black tachymeter bezel.

The “Evil Nina” is equally coveted by collectors, and is so named because of its reverse panda dial.

This particular example is in good condition: the twisted lugs are polished but sharp, and the rest of the case and bezel has typical nicks and scratches.

Unfortunately, the case back is incorrect for the watch and displays the wrong reference number. It’s possible it was switched at one point. The original dial is in good condition with just some slight discoloring on the white subdials, while the lume plots have darkened to various yellow hues, similar to the hands. While there’s some rust on the hands, that red-orange sweep seconds hand still pops off the dial.

This Universal Geneve chronograph comes on a Gay Freres bracelet that’s been polished and has some stretch on it.

Lot 112 estimate: $15,000 to $20,000

Full Auction Preview

Ticks & Tocks

A Conversation with Chrono24’s CEO; Inside Akrivia’s Atelier

🚀 The Unimatic Modello Uno ‘Space Program,’ and Riding the NASA wave. 🎧 Worn & Wound podcast interviews Chrono24’s CEO on the secondary watch market. Omega releases some limited edition watches for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 🤔 How to curate your watch collection. 📹 Part 2 of Watchonista’s visit to Akrivia. 🛹 GQ gets the real story inside Supreme. 🍽 How to become a regular at a restaurant. 🍺 PBR is selling hard coffee for some reason.

Chicago convenience store startup Foxtrot is expanding to Dallas.

Thanks for reading!


Questions/comments/tips? Just respond to this email (and please tap the heart above to like it!).

Meme of the Week:

alt title: Lion King 1994 v. 2019.


Omega, Moon Landings and Consumerism

Looking back at Sotheby's Speedmaster Auction


We went to the Moon in 1969

Maybe you’ve heard, but July 20 marked the 50th anniversary of mankind first stepping foot on the moon. From NASA’s Instagram:

Today, at 10:56 p.m. EDT 50 years ago, Apollo 11 took that one giant leap – making history for all of mankind. 🌔👨‍🚀 On the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, we salute the heroes, visionaries and explorers who made the seemingly impossible, possible. ⁣

Pretty cool. People have been “celebrating” by posting wrist shots of their Speedmasters all week. After all, is there a more American way to celebrate one of the great achievements of this country than flaunting our blatant consumerism and a Swiss company’s opportunistic profiting off such an achievement?

Well, perhaps one: An auction where those who own the same watch the astronauts wore on that fateful day can resell their timepieces at heavily inflated prices because of a bubble fueled by the consumerist habit of buying and flaunting said watches mentioned in the previous paragraph. That’s what Sotheby’s did on July 19, holding a special Speedmaster auction with 50 Speedmaster-themed lots, including some rare Speedys you don’t see every day.

I’m not actually knocking the association between Omega and the space program. Going to the moon is one of the greatest achievements in human history, and the fact that Omega was there to make tools these astronauts could actually use is astounding. It was the 60s: we dreamt big and did big things — people, companies, governments, it didn’t matter. Now, we repackage those dreams as “limited editions” and tell everyone to rush to the store to pick one up before they’re gone. Or we take the dreams of generations prior and put them in a platinum case. Or remake it into a live action version.

Anyway, jump to the Sales Corner to take a look at some of the best Omega Speedmasters that sold at Sotheby’s “To the Moon and Back | Celebrating 50 years since Apollo 11” auction form July 19.

Auction Review

Other News

More on 1969; or, the year that changed watchmaking forever.

The last truly significant development in the world of mechanical watches came in the same year that mankind reached the moon, pioneered supersonic passenger flight and invented the internet. It was also the year that nearly heralded watchmaking’s permanent downfall. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that people have been looking to go back ever since.

Meanwhile, Seiko won’t be producing a 50th anniversary chronograph.

🏷 The New, Improved, and Crowded Secondary Watch Market.

As I’ve covered before, the pre-owned watch market is booming with dealers (Govberg/WatchBox), startups (Watchfinder, StockX), and general marketplaces (Grailed, even Amazon) trying to gain a foothold next to established players (Bob’s Watches, Crown & Caliber, etc.). While the vintage market is still underserved (though some are trying), there might be enough growth in the pre-owned market to support a large set of these players.

To take advantage of the growing interest in buying pre-owned (by the way, this is a secular trend, not watch industry specific. See e.g., Grailed, Poshmark, The RealReal), Govberg found some tech partners to launch ecommerce brand WatchBox as a platform for buying and selling pre-owned watches. Head Danny Govberg says his sales of second-hand watches have grown on average by 40 percent every year for the past five years (to compare, his sales of new watches have increased about 3-5 percent in the same time frame).

📉 Swiss Exports Fall Big in June; Stable through First Half of 2019.

Speaking of new watches. Swiss watch exports dropped 10.7% in June 2019 compared to the year previous, totaling 1.7 billion Swiss francs (CHF) for the month. Units sold was down 17%. The first half of 2019 ends with an increase of 1.4% over the previous year, with total exports at over CHF 10 billion. It’s a slow down from the first quarter, when exports were up 2.9%.

In short, the story of June was a few less purchases of high-value precious metal (or two-tone) watches that allow the industry to report top line growth while in reality much of the market outside of the high end is struggling.

🌊 Hodinkee Goes Deep on the Rolex Submariner.

Big props to Hodinkee and Eric Wind for this one. They went super deep on the Rolex Submariner, going deep on references and reference variations up to about 1980 (i.e. the Reference 1680). The article is full of original photography (the sheer effort to get all these beautiful examples in the same room is laudable). There’s also a 15-minute video where Wind and Stephen Pulvirent show off some of the best examples.

Sales Corner

Selling the Speedmaster at Sotheby’s

Speedmaster Reference 145.022-69 ‘Apollo XI’.

Sure, the steel Speedmasters are the ones that went to space, landed on the moon, etc. etc. But, the gold Reference 145.022 “Apollo XI 1969”, produced to commemorate the successful moon landing is certainly the most luxurious of Speedmasters. Omega produced just 1,014 pieces: Numbers 1 and 2 were presented to President Richard Nixon and his Vice President Spiro Agnew, who couldn’t accept because it’s illegal for Presidents to accept dope gifts like this. Thirty-four pieces were given to astronauts, including Ed White (no. 10), Neil Armstrong (no. 17),and Buzz Aldrin (no. 21). A few early references after that were given to Swiss politicians and Omega and Lemania managers, while the rest were sold to the public.

The watch uses the caliber 861, the Lemania-based successor to the caliber 321. Instead of a column wheel chronograph, it uses a cam / shuttle system for the chronograph operation, and this watch has the added benefit of a sapphire caseback. It’s truly a watch that’s meant to show off and celebrate everything about landing on the moon, and you can’t fault it for that.

The example here is case number 432, and the bezel is still a super rich maroon, with that dot-over-90 you love to see from early-generation Speedmasters.

Lot 13 sold: $68,750

Sotheby’s auction also sold case number 669 of the Reference 145.022 for $47,500. This lot was slightly more worn in the case and dial, though overall still a nice example of the celebratory reference. Put another way, I’d be happy to have either.

Omega Speedmaster Reference 2915-1.

In pretty much all things, I have an irrational belief that the original is the best. Air Jordan or Air Max 1s, Rolex pre-Daytonas (I’m typing this on an original iMac), and for our purposes, Omega Speedmasters. Listen, we all know the story, so I’ll spend just this sentence on it: The CK 2915 was first released in 1957 alongside the Seamster 300 and Railmaster, a truly original big three. The CK 2915 was produced for just two years, during which time Omega produced three sub-references: the 2915-1, -2, and -3 (the -3 was a more transitional reference). In total, less than 4,000 of these original Speedmasters were produced. The CK 2915 was the first chronograph with a tachymeter on the bezel, which you can just barely make out on this example.

The Speedmaster Reference 2915-1 here is today’s most coveted iteration for many reasons. First and foremost, its manufacturing era lasted slightly more than a year between 1957 and 1958, making this scarce reference genuinely difficult to find in today’s market. Its straight lug case measures 38mm in diameter, encasing the classic black Singer dial. Top it off with the broad arrow that gives the watch its nickname and you’ve got an instantly recognizable classic.

Bukowskis sold a CK 2915-1 for about $275,000 back in October 2017, which was a record for the reference, until Phillips came along and sold one for CHF 408,500 last year. This one settled in a bit behind that, hammering at $250,000. While this is a nice reference, it’s not perfect (if we’re being picky, and we better be). Hands have been relumed (though they match nicely) and there’s some polishing, though the lugs are still thick and shapely. That said, the dial is in nice condition overall.

Lot 40 sold: $250,000

Compare this lot 40 to lot 10, which seems to have not sold after not hitting a reserve price (? — its estimate was $150,000 to $200,000, already a slight stretch). It’s not a bad example, but has been polished a bit more — I imagine those bevels are just a bit rounded and the lugs a bit thin for the taste of many. Add in a few more bumps and bruises on the case, and lume that isn’t quite the warm, even patina that collectors go crazy for, and you’ve got an example that collectors are reluctant to shell out big bucks for. It’s just another example of the widening gulf between the high, record-setting prices that good, honest examples of highly desirable vintage references achieve, and the lower prices that less-than-perfect examples receive.

Lot 40, which hammered for $250,000, compared to lot 10, which didn’t sell:

Ticks & Tocks

🎨 Otis lets you buy shares in artwork, watches, and other grails (culture as asset class). 🏗 The magical post-modern world of Disney and its architecture. ⛪️ Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than we realized. 🤩5 Instagram watch cliches that need to stop right now. 💾 The boutique Zenith Defy. Substack (who hosts this newsletter) raised a bunch of money.

Book recommendation: A Moon Watch Story.

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Skywalker and Red Submariners: Watches of Knightsbridge Auction

Brando's GMT-Master and the celebrification of everything


Watches of Knightsbridge Summer Auction Preview

Sure, Watches of Knightsbridge has its monthly online auctions, which often have some nice watches in their own right. But a few times a year, they offer a larger platform, hosting a live auction in their native London. The next live auction is July 20’s Fine, Rare, and Collectible Timepieces. There are three Rolex Submariners on the catalog cover, which might hint at the general theme of this auction. Let’s take a look at a few of the best watches up for auction.

A Submariner Reference 1680 “Mark I” Dial

Production of Red Submariners dates to 1969, and this example can be dated to 1970. By 1973, Rolex phase out the red “Submariner” writing for white font. The Reference 1680 was the first Submariner to feature a date window, meaning the movement inside was a new Caliber 1575, which was essentially the same as the preceding Caliber 1570, but with the addition of a date function.

Collectors love the Reference 1680 because seven different dial variations can be found, denoted as Marks I to VIII (Marks II and III are classified together because of their similarities). Mark I Red Submariners are the most rare, and that’s what Watches of Knightsbridge has here.

A Mark I dial is defined by “Meters First” lettering at 6 o’clock (under the red “Submariner”), elongated and closed 6s, a long and curvy “F” in “ft”, and a distinctive condensed font for the “SCOC”. IN Mark II and III dials, the 6s will be open, and by Mark IV dials, Rolex switched to “Feet First” (photo in the full preview, link below).

This is one of the “cover watches” for the auction, and with good reason. It’s a gateway into vintage Rolex collecting. For slightly more affordable Submariners, there are a number of Reference 5513s up for auction as well (here and here, for example).

Lot 158 estimate £30,000 to £35,000

Tudor Ranger Reference 7996

I’ve been deep into vintage Tudor Rangers lately (article forthcoming), so was excited to see one in this auction. This one is a rare “Rose Ranger” Reference 7996. The Ranger is Tudor’s answer to the Rolex Explorer (specifically Reference 1016), though it’s extremely difficult to find correct examples, and eBay is a minefield of fakes, frankens, and of course, “Red Rangers” (just don’t).

The serial number dates this example to 1966, a couple years before Tudor started switching over to its modern shield logo. The Reference 7996 is the date version of the 7995, which Tudor used as the inspiration for the modern Heritage Ranger, released in 2014. Inside ticks an ETA caliber 2484, signed “Tudor Auto-Prince” on the rotor. Many fake Tudor Rangers will also have an hour hand with a shorter arrow than this example, which is longer and narrower.

Lot 136 estimate: £2,000 to £2,600

IWC Ingenieur SL ‘Jumbo’

With all the Nautilus and Royal Oak hype, the poor IWC Ingenieur Jumbo seems to have been left for dead. Like the former two, the Ingenieur is a Gerald Genta design, integrated bracelet, stainless steel sports watch. This Reference 1832, dating to 1980, is one of only 543 pieces of the reference known to have been produced.

IWC, along with Rolex, Omega, and Patek, saw the need to produce anti-magnetic watches for engineers and scientists in the 1950s. Hence the original birth of the Ingenieur (alongside the Milgauss, Railmaster, and Patek Reference 3417). But the Ingenieur had become pretty staid (and pointless, with the dawn of quartz) by the 1970s, so IWC brought in Genta, the legendary designer, to breath new life into the model. He designed this Ingenieur “SL” (or “Steel Line”) for IWC (along with two other SL models which never made it to market). Like Genta’s other designs, the Ingenieur had a sandwich case, but this one screwed the bezel and the crystal into place with those screws around the bezel.

The thing measures in at 40mm by 14mm in thickness, apparently aiming to usher in an era of larger watches and inspiring Hublot in every way. The watch pretty much flopped once released, hence why they’re now so hard to find.

Lot 48 estimate: £10,000 to £12,000

Full Preview

Other News

Marlon Brando, the Moonwatch, and the Celebrification of Everything

🌅 The Marlon Brando GMT-Master from Apocalypse Now.

By now, you may have heard that the bezel-less Rolex GMT-Master that Marlon Brando wore in Apocalypse Now will be offered at Phillips’ December 2019 “Game Changers” auction. Brando wore the Reference 1675 in Francis Ford Coppola’s cinematic achievement, released in 1979. In a vintage market where condition and provenance are everything, a watch from one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century that’s stayed in the family since is about as good as it gets.

As the story goes, Brando wore the watch to the set of Apocalypse Now and was told that he had to remove the bezel during filming because it would stand out, to which the actor responded “If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor.” He said that the filmmakers let him wear the watch, but he removed the bezel.

Brando kept the watch until 1995, when he gifted it to his daughter Petra before she went to law school (parents, where’s my GMT-Master?). Petra gifted the watch to her husband on their wedding night in 2003, who says he’s never worn it (wife, where’s my GMT-Master?).

In addition to removing the bezel, Brando also engraved the caseback himself, adding even more character to the unique GMT-Master. It’s shaping up to be a big December auction for Phillips, as it will also feature Jack Nicklaus’s Rolex Day-Date.

🌒 The Moon Landing at 50.

On July 20-21, 2019, three dudes with Omega Speedmasters strapped to their wrist, forever immortalizing it as the “Moonwatch.” The only thing better than having a celebrity wearing your watch (see Brando, above) is having a watch that went to the fucking moon. Look, we love watches for their connection to history, culture, whatever. But isn’t the glorification of celebrity-worn watches a little tiresome at this point? Like, would it be so bad if you, the collector, had an original thought for once? Remember the unique Reference 6238 Daytona I featured last week, worn by one-time James Bond actor George Lazenby? Sure, it’s a cool watch, but should we really care that some shitty Bond actor wore it in one Bond film?

Anyway, Monochrome has a nice history of the Omega Speedmaster starting with the pre-professional days.

Sales Corner

The Best Watches from Fortuna’s No-Reserve Auction

On Tuesday, July 9, Fortuna Auction hosted a “No-Reserve Watches” Auction, featuring 106 lots. Often, we preview auctions, but don’t take enough time to survey the results. So let’s take a look at some of the watches that found new homes last week.

Patek Phillipe Calatrava Reference 96 in Steel.

First, doesn’t the photo above illustrate why we always take photos of watches at 10:10? There’s something about this watch being set to 3 o’clock that looks off. Anyway, this is a baby watch from 1944, measuring just 30mm in diameter.

Patek Philippe first introduced the Reference 96 in 1932 and it was in production until the early 1970s. The model was also the first to introduce number references to Patek’s collection. Being a child of the 30s, the Reference 96 was inspired by the minimalist Bauhaus aesthetic of the day, though this particular example does add some flourish with Bregeut-style numerals on the dial.

The reference 96 came in many variations throughout its 40-year production. This particular example dates to 1944, and the syringe hands do give it a sportier, military-style feel than some other Reference 96 examples. Inside ticks Patek’s manual wind caliber 12-120.

Lot 106 price: $6,875

Heuer Monaco Reference 1133G.

As I began writing about this Monaco, I almost forgot that Hodinkee’s Bring A Loupe featured it a few weeks ago. Being featured there no doubt helped this watch surpass its estimate ($5,000 to $10,000), selling for $11,250. And with everyone going crazy for the 50th anniversary of the Monaco, this watch is having something of a moment right now. As Hodinkee wrote, this particular example is slightly “less loud” than the iconic Steve McQueen colorway, though it’s not entirely possible for an architectural behemoth like this to shrink into the background. Nor do I think you’d want it to if this is your wristwatch of choice for the day. Regardless, with all the hype around modern and 50th anniversary editions, it’s nice to see a classic example like this get the attention it deserves and sell for a hefty sum.

Lot 30 price: $11,250

Ticks & Tocks

🏎 The new Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph ($260!). 🤔 Mounting a balance wheel and bridge (video). 📰 We’re at peak newsletter (please don’t unsub). 👙 GQ takes a look at how the Rolex Submariner became an icon. ♣️ A blacked-out Daytona from MAD Paris. 🎾 Roger Federer as Religious Experience (David Foster Wallace, 2006 — yes, I know he lost). 📅 When can I reuse this year’s calendar? 🤵The startup reinventing how men shop for wedding bands (WSJ). 🐮 Survey says: This is the best fast food chain (CNBC).

In Chicago: Chance the Snapper lives!

Thanks for reading!


Questions/comments/tips? Just respond to this email (and please tap the heart above to like it!).

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