If you’ve listened to The Watch Files podcast or read much here at Grail Watch, you’ve undoubtedly heard me refer to industry folklore. Clever stories are often repeated in forums, articles, and conversations, but they are often not entirely true. Then there’s the industry marketing machine, pushing surprising narratives and a-list connections with little grounding in reality. Let’s take a moment to consider the ways that folklorists spot false information and apply these watch industry marketing.
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.
At Baselworld in 2005, Rolex introduced one of the most radical products in its history: The Cellini Prince was a high-end rectangular watch with a transparent caseback showing off a highly-decorated rectangular movement. The Cellini Prince was unlike anything else in the catalog, but did not find its way into the hearts of Rolex buyers and the line was cancelled in 2015. It’s time to give this model a closer look!
On Christmas Day, 1969, the Seiko Astron was launched; this was world’s first quartz wristwatch. Or at least that’s how the story goes. But the truth is much, much more complicated, as I have been researching and writing about for months. Only a few examples of that Cal. 35 SQ Astron were produced, and it was so expensive that not many were ever actually sold. And a raft of other watches (the CEH Beta 1, Longines Ultra-Quartz, various Beta 21 models, and even the Bulova Accuquartz) could make a credible claim. So what was the first?
When people learn about my interest in watches, the conversation eventually turns to cost. Why pay so much for a watch? This is especially true once they learn that what they thought was expensive (a $10,000 Rolex) isn’t even considered “high end” in the world of watches, and once they discover that a modern gold or gem-set watch costs five times that much. Why are high-end watches so expensive?
Most watch enthusiasts have a grail, a watch just out of reach whether through rarity or price. But once they attain their grail, they often turn to restoring missing accessories like the proper box, papers, buckle, and strap. Who wouldn’t want to put their “James Bond” Submariner on the proper “Goldfinger” strap?
Yesterday’s affordable Orient diver gives way today to an even better Swiss alternative: The Squale 1545 has heritage, provenance, classic looks, and serious Swiss construction. It’s the real deal, yet costs less than 1/10 as much as a Rolex Submariner.
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!
Let’s say you wanted a classic Rolex Submariner to wear on a daily basis. What would you choose? If it was us, it would be this 1984 Rolex Submariner 5513. Here’s why…