When it comes to watch complications, a minute repeater is one of the more unusual and entertaining. Press a button and a two-tone chime will ring out the number of hours and five-minute intervals past the hour. You’ll be able to tell the time without looking, and everyone around you will marvel at your watch just as surely as if it was covered in diamonds or skeletonized to show the gears working inside.
If your grail is a “look at me” watch on a moderate budget, look no further than this Edox Grand Ocean Cape Horn Repeater, up for auction tomorrow with a starting bid of € 7,000. It’s got everything a horological exhibitionist could want apart from a recognizable name. And with all this bling on your wrist, who cares that it’s from one of the more obscure zombie brands?
Let’s take that bull by the horns first. Edox is a historic Swiss brand of the Era Watch Company, but it all but died out in the horological apocalypse known as the quartz crisis. Sold off, Edox has been revived to do battle in the mid-price segment of the market. They aren’t well known or even all that significant, farming out most design and construction to the usual suspects of the Swiss watch component industry.
So how did a “brand in name only” end up producing a watch with a highly-specialized “grand” complication? They bought an existing movement that had been languishing on a warehouse shelf somewhere and stuffed it into their Cape Horn case. Then they gussied it up with diamonds and sold it as a limited edition piece.
Let’s go way to the the 1990’s, when another obscure Swiss watchmaker, Kelek, wanted to bring a skeletonized 5-minute repeater to market. They started with the respectable ETA 2892A2 ebauche, a thin, modern, and upscale mechanism with automatic winding. To this, Kelek added a 5-minute repeater module by Dubois Dépraz, the DD 87.
Then Breitling stepped in and purchased Kelek. Not wanting many of the company’s older products, the lot was reportedly sold to Nivrel. The whole works was then skeletonized and finely finished in the classic Swiss style and sold under the Nivrel brand for a time. Compare this Nivrel to the Edox, for example.
Apparently there were a few dozen of these movements left over and Nivrel moved them on to Edox. They reportedly produced 30 Grand Ocean Repeaters, but most were in gold cases. This diamond-encrusted model nevertheless has a pedestrian stainless steel case. It is also quite uncommon, and bears a more limited mark: “No. 04/20”
It’s not the world’s most harmonious watch design, with an overly-ornate movement in a modern case, but it looks much better in diamonds than the plain-faced Edox Grand Ocean. And who’s going to argue with a watch that looks like this?
This particular Edox Grand Ocean Repeater is listed at Auctionata, going under the gavel on August 5 and starting at just € 7,000. It comes complete with the original box and papers. I have no doubt it will sell, despite the odd look and dubious brand.
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