Blancpain is billed as “the world’s oldest watchmaker”, but the history of the company is far more complex. Founded before 1735 in Villeret, the modern Blancpain traces its heritage to 1981, when Jean-Claude Biver purchased the name to be a mechanical rebuke of quartz watches. Blancpain and movement specialist Frédéric Piguet would be acquired by what is now the Swatch Group in 1992, with Biver leading the renaissance of mechanical watchmaking.
The development of the quartz wristwatch was a turning point for the timekeeping industry and shifted the balance from Switzerland to Japan and the United States, despite the fact that the Swiss industry developed the first such watch. This is the story of the tumultuous and controversial creation of the world’s first quartz watch by the CEH in Neuchâtel.
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!
Omega is a fine watchmaker, but many fans believe that their 1960’s Constellation chronometers are the height of their work. Yet these automatic watches remain affordable. Here we have an example of a late 1960’s Omega Constellation chronometer with an automatic date movement starting at just €300 at Auctionata’s January 14 auction.
Here’s a real puzzle: What do you make of a watch with a standard case and the word “Automatic” on the face yet a quartz movement inside? And what if the seller of that watch claimed it was a rare prototype with an unknown movement number yet included no photos of the inside of the watch? You’d be skeptical, right? So was I, but I believe this is the real deal: One of two known Omega prototype watch movements running at an amazing 4.2 MHz.
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.
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.