This week’s What’s Selling Where includes watches sourced from upcoming sales at Auctionata and Watches of Knightsbridge, as well as the usual suspects: dealers, and the inimitable online marketplace known as eBay. Highlights include a Rolex modified to be a perpetual calendar by Franck Muller, a prized Universal Geneve “Big Eye” chronograph, and a Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 1958 Limited Edition with no reserve. We hope you enjoy!
Custom-Made Franck Muller (Or Not?) Rolex Perpetual Calendar
The closest thing you can get to a perpetual calendar Rolex is this customized Datejust – a reference 16238 that just happens to have had its caliber 3135 movement modified by watchmaker Franck Muller in 1989. Instead of simply showing the time and date, the watch has a month and leap year indicator, a date register, a moonphase indicator, and a subdial for the days of the week at 9 o’clock. It was a rather impressive and inventive modification, although it would be interesting to try to operate the watch in person to see how well it works.
This watch has been for sale in the past and it has now made its way to the March 10 Auctionata/Chrono24 sale in New York. It is an interesting piece, one that some may love and others may hate. Some Rolex collectors would not dare touch it since it is a modified piece, while others may really want it. That is part of the interesting thing about collecting – people all have their own tastes. Personally, this is not something that I would buy, but that’s just me. I should add that some experts question the authenticity of the watch and whether Muller did the work on this – I would want confirmation from the man himself if I was going to buy it.
This perpetual calendar Rolex modified by Franck Muller has a starting price of $70,000. Unfortunately, it is not being offered with the original letter from Muller to his friend, nor a photo of the two of them with the watch, that was said to accompany it when it was previously listed for sale. I honestly don’t know enough about this watch, haven’t examined it in-person, and haven’t been in touch with Franck Muller about it, so I can’t give you a thumbs-up to bid or issue a Bidder Beware, so it is truly caveat emptor with this one. One expert contacted us and suggested that Muller did not make this watch and Marcello Comezzi did. You can see the full Auctionata March 10 NYC watch sale catalog here.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Futurematic in Steel
This Jaeger-LeCoultre Futurematic is notable in that it is steel. Gold-filled and yellow-gold references of this watch are so much more common than the small number out there in steel. The Futurematic was the first fully-automatic watch without a crown (the watch is set using a small wheel on the case back that is pushed to engage the setting-mechanism and then turned).
Though this caliber 497 Futurematic has some patina on the dial, I still think it is a fantastic and undervalued piece. The rose-gold hands and numerals offer warm contrast to the dial and case.
The starting bid on this JLC Futurematic is $1,300.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph with White Gold (not Platinum) Bracelet
You saw a sneak peek of this Datograph a couple of weeks ago, but here it is in further glory.
This white gold bracelet is absolutely killer and given its 20 mm endlink width it could be used on other Langes, too.
The starting price on this Datograph (the watch and bracelet) is $34,000.
Universal Geneve “Big Eye” Uni-Compax Chronograph
The watch that caught my eye most in the upcoming Watches of Knightsbridge March 21 sale is this Universal Geneve chronograph, which has been nicknamed the “Big Eye” (in reference to the enlarged minute register). I can’t describe how hot these are in the market and how many collectors want one. There are, as far as I know, only about 15 or less of these that have surfaced in the market, and most have a black dial with white/silver registers. There are only a few known with a white dial and black registers – and this is one of them. The black registers, black markers, blued hands, and red crosshairs are a harmonious combination.
The dial looks like it has some wear/patina (and the crystal appears to have some scratches that may be making the dial look worse than it is). However, the hands appear to be original and the case appears to be unpolished, and it appears to have the original “U”-signed crown. Overall, it just looks to be an all-original watch that is truly spectacular. It is powered by a Valjoux 23 movement signed as a Universal caliber 125 in a 37-38 mm case.
While some might look at this and guess it is worth a few thousand bucks, I would put the price on a mint Big Eye at over $10,000. I know a Big Eye with black dial and white/silver registers that sold between dealers at the recent Original Miami Beach Antique Show for $9,000.
The starting bid on this Big Eye is GBP 600 and the estimate is GBP 800 to 1,200 – although it obviously will blow past that estimate even if it won’t go as high as it would if it were in mint condition. As I tell friends, the first rule of auctions is that estimates don’t matter – the only part that matters is what the reserve is. Maybe I should write a piece on auctions?
One thing to note – it is missing its bezel, which is just a standard metal bezel. It is my guess that sourcing another shouldn’t be too difficult.
You can see the full Watches of Knightsbridge March 21 catalog here and a virtual catalog here.
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia reference 105.021
Hard as it may be to believe (if you don’t typically read comments on our new watch articles), some of our readers may find the current Lange lineup to be too big. Here is a watch that may better suit the taste of those who prefer their watches on the smaller side: a 34 mm 18k white-gold Saxonia. Yes, Lange used to make a 34 mm men’s watch. This one even includes the original 18k white-gold buckle.
It seems that most of this reference were made in yellow gold, so this is an uncommon white-gold case. Moreover, I find the blued hands against the white dial results in a spectacular look.
Who knows, this just may be a very collectible and valuable piece one day given the continued interest in Lange and the many readers who comment and seem to want 34 mm watches. Additionally, the movement is to die for – would you expect anything less from Lange?
This Lange has an estimate of GBP 6,000 to 7,000.
Bidder Beware: Longines Weems
I wanted to show you this clearly re-dialed Longines watch in an effort to encourage you to read the fine print before bidding at auction. A friend recently showed me a Memovox he bought on a whim last year from Watches of Knightsbridge and I informed him that it was clearly re-dialed. He went back to Watches of Knightsbridge and the response essentially was that if they say “original dial” in the description it means it is an original dial, but if it does not say “original” it may not be so. They also advised to do additional checking in the back of the catalog under the dial condition – it has an asterisk next to the letter grade if the dial is original.
So for this watch, the dial is given a C and it does not have an asterisk, meaning that Watches of Knightsbridge is not certifying that the dial is original. Needless to say, my friend was disappointed that his Memovox dial had been refinished, but here is hoping you don’t make the same mistake. Always do your homework. You can see the Longines here and the grading in the back for this watch is in the virtual catalog on page 176.
Longines Diver reference 7150-1
I really love these early 1960s Longines divers. They were in the early wave of 42 mm Supercompressor-cased dive watches, have great character, and are relatively undervalued.
According to Longines, “the serial number 11’485’124 identifies a waterproof wristwatch in steel bearing the reference 7150. It is fitted with a Longines mechanical self-winding movement, caliber 290 and was invoiced on 10 January 1962 to the company Perusset, which was at that time our agent for Gibraltar.” That makes sense since there is so much diving off the coast of Gibraltar.
The only questionable aspect of this watch that I noticed is that the lower hashmark Supercompressor crown appears to have been replaced with an Enicar Supercompressor crown that has the Enicar Saturn-esque logo on it, presumably the closest the seller could find to the original.
This Longines diver has a high bid on eBay of $4,050 at the time of publishing.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic 1958 Limited Edition in Steel
The recently-introduced Geophysic 1958 Limited Edition watches have rightly gotten a lot of praise. I believe that JLC may now be sold out of the steel version, which was made in a limited edition of 800 pieces. I believe that these models will become long-term collectibles. (Just for comparison to another very successful release, a lightly-used Reverso Tribute to 1931 U.S. Edition recently sold on eBay for $9,350, which was above the original retail price. Not bad for a watch that was purchased two years ago.)
This appears to be a lightly-used Geophysic 1958. The seller rates the condition at 96% and states that he purchased it from the NYC boutique in December and has the original box and papers, which are not depicted in the photos. The photos aren’t great (okay, they are terrible and may lead to a “bad photo discount”), but looking beyond that it does seem to be in good, lightly-used condition – perfect for wearing and not just storing in a safe.
This Geophysic 1958 has a high bid of $1,225 on eBay at the time of publishing.
This ca. 1940s Tissot chronograph is definitely one of my all-time favorite Tissot watches. Inside is the caliber 15 TL, which is the same as the Omega 33.3. The blued-steel hands work beautifully against the spectacular dial.
This Tissot is available for EUR 4,250 from Cars and Watches.
Wittnauer Professional Chronograph
This Wittnauer chronograph with red bezel, lollipop seconds hand, and arrow-shaped minute hand has developed a following among collectors. It really is a unique watch that just pops. I think the look with the red bezel is reminiscent of the Tudor Heritage Black Bay with red bezel. Inside is a Valjoux 7733 movement.
This Wittnauer is available on its rare original bracelet for $1,495 from Adam Vintage (not a seller with whom we are familiar so please do your own due diligence).
Tudor “Big Rose” Oysterdate reference 7962
I love the “Big Rose” Tudors – those watches with the big Tudor flower logo at 12 o’clock. This is a great one from ca. 1962. The case has been polished, but it is such a cool watch with great markers and hands. It is 34 mm in diameter.
This Tudor is available for $1,150 from Watches To Buy.
Invicta “Surfboard” Chronograph
Readers have responded positively to the value-oriented mechanical chronographs we have been frequently highlighting so far this year. Here is a funky and cool ca. 1970s Invicta chronograph. The black design on the silver dial is reminiscent of a surfboard, hence the nickname. This would make a great summer watch. It has a nice all-steel 40 mm case that may have been polished, but still looks cool.
This “surfboard” chronograph is available from Watch Steez for $525.
Longines reference 5532
This week, a Harvard undergraduate asked our opinion on Instagram of homage watches, such as an homage Milsub, which would be in-budget for him. I suggested he look more toward something vintage – something more unique, more interesting, and ultimately something that is more of an heirloom than an homage watch that is destined for the trash one day.
I am thinking something more along the lines of this Longines – nothing particularly rare or special, but just a great watch. According to Longines, “serial number 6’884’286 identifies a wristwatch in stainless steel bearing the reference 5532. It is fitted with a Longines manually wound mechanical movement, caliber 10.68Z and was invoiced on 21 July to the company Casullo, which was at that time our agent for Panama.” How is that for history? And given the look of the watch and the frequent service marks on the inside of the case back, I would imagine this watch may have some stories to tell. I don’t think this was a safe queen.
This Longines has a high bid of $64 on eBay at the time of publishing.
Bidder Beware: Heuer Autavia reference 3646
I think at least a few Heuer collectors hearts stopped when they saw this Autavia show up on eBay – a prized early Autavia with first-execution screw-back case, second-execution dial, and the correct dauphine hands.
However, further examination revealed that it had a rather strange bezel – smooth instead of with teeth. One man presented what seems the correct theory – the teeth of the bezel were ground down so that a replacement crown could fit and the bezel could still turn.
As a friend analogized, it was like seeing a beautiful woman … only to realize she did not have any teeth. Yes, the world of vintage watches can be quite strange and that is part of what makes it so interesting. Unfortunately, the odds of finding the replacement bezel are slim. This Autavia is currently at $4,974.30 on eBay Germany.