Spend some time looking at old watches and you’re bound to stumble across an unusual watch with an off-center dial, fancy exposed balance, and 8-day power reserve. The dial will likely say “Hebdomas” and “8 Jours” and not much more. Is this some exotic high-end watch or a mass-market pretender? That’s the story I’m telling today!
I’m a big fan of auctions as a way to obtain interesting watches for my collection. There are plenty of online antique, art. and specialized watch and clock auctions, populated with collected watches deserving of attention. If you look carefully, you will find some interesting watches, along with plenty that should be avoided!
Regular readers of Grail Watch know that I have a particular fascination with watches that contain multiple separate movements in a single case. Ever since the Nappey Jumelles Times and Ardath Long Distance of the 1960s, watch makers have used compact “ladies” movements in oversized travel watches for men. Now a modern maker, Alexander Shorokhoff, has done the same, first with the Los Craneos an now with the new Levels model.
James Bond, Agent 007, has been linked with gadgets for decades. From the Aston Martin to the Rolex to that mini jet, the Bond movies have cemented these images in our minds. But the very first official James Bond watch didn’t come from Rolex, Omega, or even Seiko: It came from an obscure company called Moeris, which has a surprising connection to those companies!
Although unconventional time displays are popular today, very few watches had so-called retrograde hands to display the time until the 1990s. Sector displays first appeared in pocket watches as early as 1650 and were wildly popular in the early 1900s thanks to the Sector pocket watch from Record. But it was not until the Le Phare Sectora, LIP Secteur, and Wittnauer Futurama of the 1970s that this complication appeared on the wrist. These watches are rarely seen or discussed today, but were truly groundbreaking even as the quartz revolution challenged watchmaking.
Browsing through the archives of Europa Star, I came across a groundbreaking watch I had never encountered. The Jean d’Eve Samara was not just the world’s first automatic-winding quartz watch, it was also a remarkably novel design! My research rabbit-hole lead me to learn not just about this watch but about an entire dark corner of horology.
Given the clever retrograde chronograph movement, the Gran’Sport Chronograph is the pick of the Gran’Sport lineup today. It’s really too bad that gorgeous Reverso Chronographe Rétrograde is out of the price range for most people.
Today we’re looking at something truly special: A groundbreaking movement in a limited-edition watch that retailed for well over a quarter-million dollars. But there’s another story here, too: The grey market for expensive watches that are a bit past their prime, and the steep discounts that follow. The result is a $150k discount on a basically-new piece of haute horology.
Despite an amazing history of producing excellent watches and watch movements, Seiko never seems to get the respect it deserves. But perhaps the most curious attempt by Seiko to challenge the Swiss came in the form of the SARA watch and the 4L25 movement inside.
My enthusiasm for various watch models tends to wax and wane as I see something interesting, and lately my attention has turned to the IWC Ingenieur range. From the original Milgauss competitor to Gerald Genta’s remarkable Ingenieur SL to the chunky Mercedes-AMG racing models, the Ingenieur lineup has always been worth a look. Yet today’s lineup is beyond bland and not deserving of the name. Good thing, too, since IWC seems to be eliminating that, too!