This week’s Bring A Loupe will be all about amazing vintage watches, featuring many of my absolute favorites, soon to become yours too. You will discover a Royal Oak in platinum, some of the greatest pre-Daytona chronographs from Rolex, and plenty of mythical Movado, LeCoultre, and Universal Geneve watches as well. In my auction picks I also identified two questionable lots, but rest assured that the other pieces will more than make for the early disappointment. This is your Bring a Loupe for July 24, 2015.
A Very, Very Rare Royal Oak Jumbo In PLATINUM
This might be the ultimate Royal Oak, we did warn you four years ago. It looks almost like any other regular Royal Oak Jumbo until you focus on the dial. Surprise, the traditional tapisserie pattern is gone but there is a good reason: this Royal Oak is in PLATINUM! This model was intended as a celebration piece for the 125th anniversary of Audemars Piguet but it met with very limited enthusiasm back in 1999. Only eight examples have ever been manufactured, which makes it infinitely more rare than any 5402 A-Series.
Snap it while you still can here. Also be careful to not confuse this watch with the 1992 Anniversary platinum version. These earlier 20 pieces bear the exact same reference number but do not exhibit the same blue stone dial.
A Familiar Compur From Universal Geneve With The Coolest Strap Ever
You might remember this chronograph from our feature a year ago when it sold on eBay here. Thankfully, it kept its killer look with the incredible Breguet numerals and the very large and enticing registers. It was an amazing recommendation a year ago and remains so today. I still can’t believe that it is fitted with a Universal Geneve strap that might very well be original to the watch so close to 75 years old!
This beautiful chronograph Compur is available on Christie’s Watch shop here for $5,900.
A 1950s LeCoultre Futurematic With The Coolest Dial And Movement
Usually, I would not recommend a gold plated watch as the unforgivingness of the thin gold layer scares me. But this Futurematic is way too nice! This model from Jaeger-LeCoultre remains one of the most interesting yet undervalued vintage pieces. The example here features the most coveted dial, nicknamed the porthole after its distinctive power reserve on the left of the dial. The crown is concealed in the case back as it is used only to set the time (the watch doesn’t wind from the crown; instead you have to swing it back and forth to wind power into the mainspring). This watch is indeed an engineering marvel: it solely relies on its bumper winding mechanism – the watch will actually stop when there is 10 hours of power left, so that it can start at the first movement of your wrist.
This king of cool is offered for sale on eBay here for $3,750 and I give the seller some serious bonus points for his video exposing the functioning of his special watch, which was originally intended for the U.S. market, as the LeCoultre (that is, LeCoultre vs. Jaeger-LeCoultre) branding testifies.
Tudor Submariner 7016 With Lollipop Seconds And US Navy Papers
Early Tudor Subs are very hard to find in great shape. This watch is special because it is a reference 7016 (pre-Snowflake) with beautiful original dial and hands. In particular, I like the oversized lollipop seconds hand. On top of that, the case appears to be unpolished with beautiful thick bevels, and to add to the coolness, this watch was seemingly sold to someone stationed on a NAVY service ship in Vietnam – or so says the accompanying (handwritten) papers. This one is listed by a private seller on VRF for 6,150 euro here.
A Vintage Vacheron Dress Watch In White Gold For A Break-Neck Price
When it comes to dress watches I always have this quote in mind: “Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away.” This Vacheron Constantin obeys to this rule amazingly well, reaching an extreme purity. Some would find the result boring but to me this smashing sobriety is exactly what you need when dressing up. The case is in white gold, a very discreet metal, and the slim 34 mm size would neatly fit under shirt cuffs. This is a vintage Vacheron (i’d guess 1960s) in white gold (quite rare) for less than the cost of a new Frederique Constant. You simply can’t beat this watch if you’re looking for a killer dress piece. Oddly, the watch features a yellow gold crown adorning the Vacheron cross which is certainly not original, but at this price, buy the watch and pick up a crown later. This one will not last.
The Keystone is offering this Vacheron for $4,500 here.
A Stunning Chronograph Movado M95
Vintage chronographs from Movado are deeply undervalued, probably due to the current positioning of Movado. Looking at this M95 reveals how unfair this anonymity is. This chronograph has everything we love: a killer dial, an in-house movement and a great case from Borgel… You know the case makers, whose other clients included Patek, Vacheron, and Ulysse Nardin.
This is the smart buy of the week, it is offered on Chronocentric here for $3,300.
Another Movado, The Calendograph
While I sing the praise of Movado, let me introduce you to the Calendograph reference. The name says it all: this is a triple calendar in a dress watch. Well, here you also get a two tone dial, in a crisp condition that you rarely find – or with refinished dials. The case is clearly on the smaller side, which has to be expected from a watches from the 1940’s but the sharp spider lugs will make you forget that quickly.
The Italian dealer Cosimo is listing this beauty for $2,500 here. Oh, and remember the Tiffany & Co. calendar watch belonging to FDR that inspired the new CT60 collection? Yup, that was a Movado.
A Tudor Monte Carlo Reference 7032
The Monte Carlo design is the true proof that Tudor is much more than Rolex’s little sibling (though nowadays pretty much nobody thinks that anymore!). And the Home Plate model – reference 7031 with black bakelite bezel and 7032 with stainless steel bezel – is the most desirable variation of them all, only produced for two years until 1972. This early 7032 demonstrates everything you would expect from an amazing vintage watch: a fat case, the original pushers, hands and bracelet, and of course a great bezel. The seller does warn that the dial features some really small “tiny watermarks,” which is unfortunately to be expected due to the low quality of the painting job during production. If you were looking for a classical but cool chronograph with great wrist presence, you have found it now. The 7031 and 7032 are essentially Tudor’s Paul Newman Daytona, and they are equally rare (if not rarer), with a bigger case for much less money.
The Italian dealer based in LA Alessandro Ciani is offering this great 7032 here for $27,500.
BIDDER BEWARE – A Gold Geophysic At Auction With A Bad Dial
The recent re-edition of the Geophysic brought some well deserved attention to the original model from 1958. There is a lot to love about this 35 mm watch built for adventurers. Unfortunately, the one auctioned by Fellows in London has the worst redial I have seen for a long time. It is so bad that it hurts. This dial simply does not belong to the Geophysic reference as evidenced by the indexes eating out part of the minute tracks, and the Jaeger-LeCoultre line placed slightly too low. Obviously, a must-flee for lack of a better word . . .
You can still see it here, just don’t bid for lot 124.
A Beautiful Rolex Pre-Daytona Reference 6234
There are many other mighty vintage chronographs from Rolex beyond the Paul Newmans and this 6234 is an excellent proof. The dial is to die for, harmoniously mixing blue tachymeter and red telemeter scales with incredible enamel indexes. The watch is in better than average condition with a polished but thick case, the only defect I could spot on the dial was a missing lume dot at 5 o’clock. I especially like how the plumpness of the case hides the base of the pushers. Get over the loss of its original bracelet, this chrono looks amazing on a strap.
You can find this rare 6234 at Tempvs here for a fraction of the price of any Paul Newman Daytona.
Longines Reference 23086 Center Minute Chrongoraph On eBay
The reference 23086 chronograph from Longines is probably the most desirable Longines chronograph in the world, and included in the upper echelons of vintage chrono collecting. It features a massive waterproof 40 mm case, an insanely beautiful dial, and of course the rare version of the famous caliber 13ZN that features center minutes. These watches are RARE, and reside in the important collections of the likes of Alfredo Paramico, so when when appears on eBay, you have to take notice. Okay, so the quality of this watch is not good – the dial is heavily damaged and the hands look re-lumed or replaced. But the bones of this watch are rock solid, with a stunning thick case retaining its original beveling (look at those pics from the side!) and a matching case back number to the lug, an important attribute on these expensive Longines chronographs. Further, you have an interesting engraving on the cas back that could, if researched well, lead to an interesting story. Right now, the watch is at $5,100 on eBay, and considering these usually list for 50,000 Euro AND UP from prominent dealers, it’s a bargain for someone willing to put in the time to find a dial and hands. Or, frankly, if you can live with the watch as is, a quick service would give you a lot of bang for your buck.
This center minutes Longines reference 23086 is available on eBay here with four days to go.
Highlights From Boule Auction In Monte Carlo, July 30
Monte-Carlo proves to be a popular spot for summer watch auctions; the Boule auction is the third we cover in a month and you can find its catalog here.
A Rolex Chronograph 6238 To Serve Queen And Country
The chronograph Pre-Daytona reference 6238 is rare with less than 3,500 examples ever produced in all metals, meaning very few (at least, very few by Rolex standards.) It is in fact the rarest of all 62XX Rolex chronographs, meaning more rare than any Daytona. But this rarity alone does not explain what makes the lot 1357 my absolute favorite at this auction. The watch for sale is actually a very early model as you can see from the non-tritium dial and leaf hands, and this sobriety goes perfectly with its full stainless steel look. Oh, don’t forget that the 6238 actually saved James Bond’s life in the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Granted the rivet bracelet has seen better days but, estimated between 18,000 and 25,000€ or around $20,000 to 27,500, this Pre-Daytona is calling your name.
A Dressy Patek With Funky Lugs In Rose Gold
The lot 1337 from Patek is more than a great dress watch: it combines classic and extravagant looks. The blued second hand gives some sparkle to the dial and the lug shape is a funky twist that sets apart merely great from amazing watches. I feel that the catalog is misstating the case size though, I would bet it is 34 mm rather than the announced 36 mm. In any case, on your wrist the rose gold case will be less formal than the yellow tone. If you are conquered this Patek reference 1491 is estimated between 12,000 and 15,000€ or around $13,000 to 16,500.
A Sexy Red Rolex Datejust
The recent Glamorous Day-Date Auction has emphasized the desirability of lacquered stella and stone dials on vintage Rolex. Here, the agata dial of the Datejust 1601 is a true head-turner. The deep red color goes extremely well with the yellow gold case and the larger hands from the 1970’s make up for the lack of indexes on the dial. The winning bid for the lot 1079 is evaluated between 9,000 and 12,000€ or around $10,000 to 13,000, which might sound expensive for a Datejust, but this sexy red is definitely not your average 1601.
BIDDER BEWARE – A Fake Universal Geneve Space Compax That Looks Good
The guy who massively faked the UG Space Compax was good, scarily good. This is unfortunately not the first time that one of his “masterpieces” ends up at an auction – lot 1160 for Boule – so be really careful when you are hunting for this reference. A couple of telltales should help you out: the real case has no chamfer, the real case back has no diver engraved and the index on the original dial are of a much better quality. The estimate for this blatant fake does not matter but let it just be a reminder of some crooks’ talent.
Notable Sale Of The Past Week – A Heuer 3417 Quickly Gone
While the Heuer Dato is not a rare watch per se, the reference 3147N is VERY appealing nonetheless with an outlandish date placement and its asymmetric panda dial. The reason I conclude with this piece, offered by Rarebirds early this week, is related to its sale itself. In less than 24 hours this piece was snapped for $7,000, a price tag I deemed high given the condition of the sub-register and the flaked tritium on the minute hand.
All this confirms the strength of vintage Heuer on the market so when you spot the next 3147, make it yours or send it my way.