It is difficult for a watch enthusiast on a budget to enter the world of complicated watches. Adding anything more than time and date quickly ratchets up the price beyond what most people can afford. This is especially true of chiming watches – good luck finding a mechanical Repeater or Sonnerie priced less than a car! But Reveil (or alarm) watches are the exception: These can often be found on a budget. Today we will look at a few that are up for auction and decide which (if any) is a buy.
This is a web site about grails: Watches people spend their lives looking for. Approximately zero people will spend their lives looking for a beat up, common, 1970’s Breitling like this Datora 592. But I bought it, and I thought it might be interesting to my readers to know why and what I’m doing next.
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!
The Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox is a true classic: A novel watch that sold well when it first appeared and lasted for decades after, continuing even today. Although not the first alarm wristwatch, the Memovox came on the market in 1951 and became the first ever automatic watch with an alarm function in 1956. Jaeger-LeCoultre upped the ante with a high-beat version in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and has continued offering this useful complication in today’s Master Memovox and related models.
It’s rare to find a watch that is universally desirable and pricey yet still common. Such is the case with the Rolex “Double Red” Sea Dweller, a proper tool watch, investment, and status symbol. Even more unusual, this watch comes from the 1970’s, the era of the collapse of the Swiss watch industry and many truly horrible designs. Yet it is so iconic, so sought-after, and so recognizable that prices continue to vault upwards!
We recently ran across a mystery: This Buren Calibre 82 wristwatch boasts an unknown 36,000 A/h movement and ambiguous date of production. What is it? We unravel the mystery and recommend a buy!
Here is a lovely early 1970’s Breitling “Co-Pilote” 7651 watch with the famous Chronomatic movement. It was seriously huge at the time, but today 48 mm is simply “large”. This makes it eminently wearable, not just a safe-queen. The black PVD bezel is cool, but the replacement bracelet is unfortunate.
Not everyone likes the Royal Oak, but it’s hard to understate its importance. It’s one of the most influential watches of the last half-century, creating a whole new niche that now accounts for much of the industry’s sales: Luxury sports.
Not everyone is into quartz watches. That’s understandable. But anyone who appreciates history and technology would be interested in the story of the first quartz watch. At the end of the 1960’s, which itself was something of a golden era for mechanical watches, two competitors raced to bring quartz clock technology to the wrist: Seiko won and came to dominate the market with low priced models.