At this risk of this becoming “Grail Seiko” rather than “Grail Watch”, please allow me to present two wonderful and very rare watches for your consideration. Both are gaudy gold watches, both are relatively modern, and both are probably overpriced except in the eyes of a true Seiko fanatic. But one is an homage to Seiko tradition while the other was the first attempt by the company to take on the Swiss!
It is difficult for a watch enthusiast on a budget to enter the world of complicated watches. Adding anything more than time and date quickly ratchets up the price beyond what most people can afford. This is especially true of chiming watches – good luck finding a mechanical Repeater or Sonnerie priced less than a car! But Reveil (or alarm) watches are the exception: These can often be found on a budget. Today we will look at a few that are up for auction and decide which (if any) is a buy.
I’ve learned a few valuable lessons over the last few years in the watch collecting hobby, some through experience and some through research. So I thought I would share two really important ones with my readers today: Do not buy a Rolex watch and try to ship it into the USA, and do not buy a watch strap made of an endangered species and try to ship it out of Europe. These two rules are unrelated, but both can easily trip up would-be watch enthusiasts. And not all watch dealers will have your back if you run afoul of them!
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.