A Tale of Two Olde Watches, Volume ONE

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A Tale of Two Olde Watches, Volume ONE

Post by Mortuus on 2013-07-31, 06:06

I discovered a couple of years back that I have the semi-recessive gene that allows me to appreciate and, in the fullness of time, acquire and even treasure vintage watches.  After several years of buying thyroidal monsters from the likes of Invicta, Android and Renato, I was suddenly loathe to wear them, partly out of embarrassment, but mostly out of dislike for all that superfluous weight banging away at the end of my wrist.  There is an elegance to these vintage watches, and a large part of that is their smaller size that doesn't overpower the wrist, but rather enhances it.  It's a cathartic experience to go from 48mm-52mm "tea saucers" to these small vintage pieces, averaging 35-40mm.  Yes, they're often more expensive, but they're so worth it.  And so, presented for your perusal, here are two wonderful vintage pieces that I'm very proud to both own and wear...


Part I: Omega Seamaster



I was very lucky to acquire this beautiful Omega Seamaster for less than $400. USD. The seller summarized this watch thusly:

Title: "Vintage Omega Automatic Sweep Seconds Large Seamaster 165.002 Mens Watch"
Manufacturer: Omega
Circa: 1968
Provenance: 'SWISS MADE' (appears below the 6 o'clock indicator.)
Diameter: w/o crown: 35mm
Lug tip to Lug tip: 40mm
Thickness: 10mm
Inside lugs: 18mm
Case shape: Round
Case condition: Very good – a few minor surface scratches, mostly on bezel and lugs.
Case Metal: Stainless steel
Case color: Stainless steel
Dial condition: Overall very good, some minor spots and scratches
Dial Color: Silvertone
Numerals:  Applied 'baton' indices (double indices @ 12 o'clock)
Jewels:  24
Adjusted:  No
Hands: Index
Movement Type: Automatic cal.550
Movement Condition: Very good, keeping good time, +14~ sec/day. (Has not had service in >5 years)
Notations on movement: Omega Watch Co, Swiss twenty-four (24) jewels 550 26847569
Crystal: Acrylic, very good, a few tiny blemishes, may be aftermarket.
Crown: Fluted, snaps and winds well, signed.
Box & Papers: None
Bracelet: Speidel expansion
Bracelet and total watch length: 7” inner circumference
Bracelet Material: Stainless steel
Clasp or buckle: Stretch bracelet (unsigned)
Total Watch weight: 60.2 grams

Okay, I admit that the above data is flush with what I call "Head-Scratcher Entries." We've all seen them, and, with a little bit of patience and concentration (in my case, that translates to 'single malt & rocks'), we might be able to decode what the seller was trying to say...and then delete them so that no one else has to scratch their collective heads and edge their way inexorably into the depths of alcoholism.  If you think it's long now, you should've seen some of the silliness I ultimately deleted...



I came across this watch not long after I'd had my dad's gold-filled Omega Seamaster De Ville restored. I enjoyed wearing it so much that I decided I needed a stainless steel (AKA "silvertone") Seamaster to go with it.  After a few weeks, I came across this one, and it immediately grabbed my undivided attention.



It's certainly a beautiful watch, but it's also very comfortable, as well.  Of course, any watch weighing in at 60 grams is going to be an easy burden on the wrist, but even more than that, it's the well-made, vintage Speidel expansion bracelet that makes it both easy to put on and wear for hours at a time.





I'll invariably get someone who asks me something along the lines of, "Say, Mort, how many arm hairs have you lost with that thing?"  It's certainly a valid question, but as a person with a pretty fair amount of arm/wrist hair, I feel quite confident when I say that this bracelet is comfortable and doesn't make a meal out of my wrist hairs.



In summation,  there isn't a single thing wrong with this golden oldie from 1968; the comfort level is superb, as are the engineering and appearance factors.  Some might not like the plexiglass dial, but given it's relative prevalence back in the day, I just don't see it as a down-check.  All-in-all, this one gets a lot of wear, so much so that I've often removed my WURW piece and pick this one up, usually before 1100 AM most days.




Part II: Vintage Men's 1960's Girard-Perregaux, 17 Jewels, Manual Wind





This was an eBay find, and when I came across it, I couldn't quite believe the opening bid of $625. USD.  It also had a Make-an-Offer feature, always a welcome sight to the eBay shopper.  I'd been used to seeing the GP brand at much higher opening gambits on eBay; in fact, the opening bids have been pretty much uniformly too high for this old retired Airedale. I ended up sending an offer of $485 which, much to my surprise - and even a bit of chagrin - the seller accepted.



Although the seller didn't offer the plethora of information as seen in the above Omega, there was enough provided for me to get a good sense of this GP's provenance:

Brand: Girard-Perregaux
Style: Men's 17-jewel mechanical dress watch
Country of Origin: Switzerland (Marked Swiss 1791 inside caseback)
Case: Stainless steel
Caseback: Stainless steel
Case size: 35mm (w/o crown) X 41mm (lug-to-lug) X 7mm Thick
Dial: Rose gold over stainless steel, light gold baton hour markers.
Crystal: Plexiglas, very minor marks, scratches.
Movement type: 17 jewels, Mechanical/Hand-winding
Caliber: 2009367
Strap: New XL red-brown teju lizard
Strap Width: 18mm
Weight: 23 grams (not a typo; that's actually its weight...I must've weighed it a dozen different times, always with the same result. Dayum...that sounds like the rough definition of insanity we've all heard.)


Phrase Fond Acier Inoxydable translates to "[Case]back Stainless Steel"



This watch is a genuine pleasure to wear.  Weighing in at a wrist-busting 23 grams, you really do forget it's there, but a glance at your wrist - something we all do in strangely odd-but-regular intervals during the day - reminds you of the amazing watch you've gotten for yourself.  I have to say that one of my very favorite things about this watch is the amazing dial color; you could call it rose gold, but to me, baby-boomer that I am, it looks more like one of those new pennies that I religiously collected and stuffed into one of my trusty Whitman's Coin Folders back in the day. Put another way, the dial is flawless.  The hands and "baton" hour markers are silvertone in color, but when viewed in the context of the whole dial (or, for my pop-psych friends in Northern California, the "Gestalt") they have an interesting - and attractive - tendency to look like yellow gold (an optical effect which, of course, I can't capture with my camera).  The Girard-Perregaux signature is both unique (just look at that way-cool font!) and perfectly placed.





From an engineering perspective, it's a decent performer, running on average at about -30 seconds per day, but please take this with a few of Uncle Krappy's Salt Tablets; old Mort isn't very good at these estimations when there's no sweep second hand. (Okay, so old Mort's not too swift with these things when there is a seconds hand...)  Still, I feel confident that when I glance down to check the time, I'm pretty doggoned close to the ground truth that is Horology.  The micro-signature on the movement is one of those details that might go unnoticed on watches of lesser provenance, but it looks damned fine to this particular dead guy.  It's easy to wind, though I get nervous about the prospect of the eeevil demon known as "overwinding."  I've never actually done this, but I get a bit of the yips (to borrow a term from my favorite sport) when I set out to wind and set this beautiful old watch.



When I bought this watch, it came with one of those throw-away, generic black straps we've all seen.  Trouble is, when I went to try it on, I could barely get the doggoned thing to the first eyelet, much less have anything to put into the first of the two keepers.  A quick visit to my Jeweler/Watchmaker, and I'm sporting an amazing, extra long teju lizard strap, courtesy of the good folks at Hadley-Roma.  I went with a dark reddish-brown color, which really allows the otherwise subdued silvertone of the case to stand out a bit more.  I've always loved the lizard straps, but it's a bit of a double-edged sword, as it's pretty easy to mar the finish if you're not paying attention.  In other words, it's not the sort of strap - or watch, for that matter - to knock around with in your workshop.





Yet another wonderful watch with which I have to struggle to find something wrong...seriously. Even if you're not a fan of vintage watches, this one will trip your Way-Cool Alarm.  It's got classic looks, runs reliably and is exceedingly comfortable.  It probably won't win any awards for down-to-the-second accuracy, but seriously, that's not something that I worry about in a dress watch.  Do you?




A Coming Attraction

A classic Mido meets a modern-day NATO oiled leather strap...



...and a very classic Arvin "Hopalong Cassidy" radio.




As always, many thanks for looking...

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Re: A Tale of Two Olde Watches, Volume ONE

Post by kahuna74 on 2013-07-31, 11:38

Awesome thread mort. I too love the vintage time pieces and have a few. I have my eye on a 1940s Omega right now. Love some of your old watches my friend.
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Re: A Tale of Two Olde Watches, Volume ONE

Post by Mortuus on 2013-07-31, 17:06

Thank you, Big Kahuna! Vintage watches are as bad - if not worse - than 'tater chips... What a Face 

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