Once people realize I’m a “watch guy”, they tend to ask the same question: “What’s the best watch under $x price?” And most often, that price point is $1,000. There seems to be a psychological barrier to spending more than a grand on a piece of jewelry that has long since had its essential function taken away by electronic gadgets and computers.
Is the Apple Watch a personal communication revolution like the iPhone, a well-executed gadget like the Apple TV, or a total miss? Does it mark the end of the the world as we know it for watches? And what’s it like to use one? I’m a watch guy and a gadget guy, so perhaps my perspective will be of some value.
If you’ve read this blog for long, you know that I love to scour auction listings for under-described watches that are way more special than they appear. But folks like me also often note pieces that are incorrectly described, and one great example just caught my eye: The Omega Seamaster 176.005 Chronograph is often described as the “Jedi”, an incorrect name for this model and an unofficial one regardless. Let’s take a look.
Get ready for the tech press to flip out when Apple announces the retail price for the gold Apple Watch Edition model. Apple critics have always roasted the company for selling products that are more expensive than they should be, and they frequently use this as a wedge topic to criticize buyers. But the “18-karat gold” Apple Watch Edition will set a whole new bar with a sales price of $10,000. The funny thing in this case is that Apple is perfectly right to be charging that much!
I first discovered the world of column wheel 7750 variants while looking at a Longines Heritage Chronograph. The movement looked vaguely familiar to me, yet I couldn’t place it. A bit of research revealed it to be something really special: A column wheel variant of the Valjoux 7753 built by ETA for their Valgranges line. Then I stumbled on the fact that Omega also got a version of this ETA Valgranges A08.L01 movement with a Co-Axial escapement.
I recently had the experience of doing some watch shopping with a whole group of friends with me. They weren’t all that interested in watches but I spotted some shops and went inside. This made me realize that “normal people” really don’t understand what “watch people” are looking for in a watch. What makes one worth thousands while another isn’t even worth hundreds?
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!
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!
Today, a vintage Rolex Explorer or Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic can command $10,000 or more, yet I just purchased a beautiful Nivada Antarctic at auction for just € 450.