Zenith was “the first manufacture”, one of the greatest watch companies in Switzerland, and the economic force behind Le Locle. Then it was purchased by an American electronics company and ordered to destroy its mechanical watchmaking assets. This is the story of the mighty Zenith, brought low, and returning thanks to a machine tools baron, a humble watchmaker, and two other famous brands.
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.
Regular Grail Watch readers might have noticed that I have begun using the archives of Europa Star rather heavily in my research. The editors noticed as well, and have invited me to be a contributing writer to that fine journal. My first piece was published today, and delves into the history of an iconic model, IWC’s Da Vinci. The archive brought me fantastic information and illustrations, as we will discuss today.
Seiko has been collaborating with Giugiaro Design since the 1980s. The most famous fruit of this collaboration was the “Aliens” watch line, which have been reissued in recent years. In late 2018, Seiko introduced another reissue: The SBJG multi-function digital models we will discuss today.
Despite the sketchy history of the design, Movado’s “Museum Watch” remains an icon of horology. It’s one of the very few watches that is instantly recognizable even to the uninitiated, and thus belongs in any serious collector’s watch box, if not on their wrist.
The Storm Microcamera is something special only because it’s so darn odd. It’s not very functional or useful, but it looks cool and is excellently designed and made. It’s everything that “mushroom brands” like the Xeric aren’t. And I like it.
Some of the most recognizable and sought-after collectible watches weren’t all that expensive when they were new. One example of the low-end grail is the line of 7A28 Seiko chronographs designed by Italian designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro. These odd asymmetric watches were used in the 1986 film, “Aliens”, but were not considered collectibles at the time. Now they are so in demand that Seiko has reissued them as limited edition models in their home-market Spirit line.
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.
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!
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!