Although not a well-known brand today, Universal Genève were leaders in the chronograph market in the 1940’s. And one sign of that success was the Aero-Compax, a full-featured pilot’s watch complete with chronograph and dual-time (GMT) complications. It’s no wonder that companies like Zenith and Girard-Perregaux chose Universal to build their chronographs back then!
I don’t usually talk about military watches, but this Breguet Type 20 caught my attention. It has fantastic patina, from the faded lume to the cracked crystal, and it represents a unique part of history. I’m not sure it’s worth the € 3,000 starting bid, but it might well be to an enthusiast.
Let’s see how many watch enthusiast hot-buttons I can press… Glashütte? Platinum? Chronograph? Limited Edition? Sized for modern wrists (but not giant)? How about all this for a $16k auction starting bid?
Like many watch fans, I was enticed by the concept of visiting the picturesque mountains of French-speaking northwest Switzerland, the Jura region, home of so many of my timepieces. But I was not entirely clear on what this visit would entail. Most of the articles about such visits focus on special arrangements by manufacturers or general overviews of the towns in the cantons of Neuchâtel and Geneva. I would be traveling alone and unannounced, however. What would await me in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, Bienne-Biel, Le Sentier, and the rest?
Le Locle is the birth- and work-place of Daniel JeanRichard, initiator of the Swiss watchmaking industry way back in 1672. He established the system of établissage, wherein a watch would be constructed from components created by specialist suppliers. So it is appropriate that, on my recent visit to the heart of the Swiss watch industry, I stopped in Le Locle and constructed my own watch!
With so many brands making watches it can be difficult to track down some of the oddballs you run across. Such was the case recently when I stumbled on a lovely tonneau-cased Paul Picot Firshire Chrono for sale at auction. I had never heard of the brand or model, and the description was less than helpful. So I set about learning more.
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.
This is a web site about grails: Watches people spend their lives looking for. Approximately zero people will spend their lives looking for a beat up, common, 1970’s Breitling like this Datora 592. But I bought it, and I thought it might be interesting to my readers to know why and what I’m doing next.
How would you like to own an extremely rare and interestingly complicated watch from a legend of independent Haute Horology? This worn but interesting world timer watch was constructed by Svend Andersen in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ journey to the new world. And it’s definitely worth the starting bid of € 4,000.
Some grails are special because of their association with history (see my piece on the “Scuderia Ferrari” Zenith, for example), while others are just plain odd. This is the latter. The Girard Perregaux Casquette (Ref. 9931) is a mid-1970’s LED quartz watch with innovations throughout. It’s just too bad the quartz revolution ended with a whimper instead of this kind of excitement!