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Alpina revives the hunter-style flip-open caseback with its new limited edition Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic. The new model, which features a vintage-style dial and a new case, includes the hunter design, in part to reference an earlier Startimer Pilot watch from 2015 that also featured the retro style.

The new Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic.

This latest addition to the pilot series is built with a 44 mm steel case that frames a matte black dial displaying luminescent beige hour, minute and 24-hour markers that nicely replicate a typical shade used on pilot watches starting in the 1930s and 1940s.

Additional vintage details include the triangular Alpina logo on the dial, which utilizes the original font used by Alpina during the peak of the manufacturer’s mid-century pilot watch production. The logo, which differs from the logo Alpina places on its contemporary pilot models, also serves a practical purpose by separating the 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock markers. A colorful red counterbalance on the seconds hand accents the all-business dial, which includes a date indicator.

Alpina decorates the outside of the revived hunter caseback with a fine perlage pattern. When clicked open by pressing the button at 4 o’clock, the back exposes a Sellita-based AL-525 automatic movement sporting a darkened rotor, and otherwise basic finishing.

The crown and the strap also echo the vintage pilot design. The former is large and grooved while the latter is brown and calfskin, accented with beige topstitching.

With this launch, Alpina continues its support of the National Park Foundation as an official partner. For every Startimer Pilot Automatic 40mm purchased through the brand’s U.S. website, Alpina will donate $100 to the parks.

Limited to 1,883 pieces, the new Alpina Startimer Pilot Heritage Automatic is priced at $1,295.

 

By James Henderson

Mention watches and traditional watchmaking, and you’d be forgiven for thinking of Switzerland, Germany or even Japan. But France, and more specifically Besançon, has perhaps one of the strongest histories of traditional watchmaking in the world. And when you think of French watches, the one brand that stands out above all others is Lip.

The view in Besançon, the center of French watchmaking.

Lip is indelibly linked to the French psyche much like Timex has been to those of us who grew up in the United States. 

Lip has become something of a cult brand, even in the U.S. And for good reason. The Lip Mach 2000 is something of an anomaly among watch fans. If we are honest about it, in its current format it is essentially a quartz chronograph, and Lip has made few cosmetic changes to it.

The Lip Mach 2000

More than a watch

But this is a watch that demonstrates that a watch is far more than the sum of its parts.  Think I’m kidding?

While in France I received a Facebook message from a fellow watch journalist stateside asking me to pick one up while I was there and bring it back for him.  There are certain watches out there that hit visceral nerves, and for me Lip has a few models that speak to me on levels I can’t really quantify. They are emotional as much as pragmatic.  Lip, at its very heart, is as much a feeling as it is a brand.

Lip is well known throughout the Francophone world, and famous with hard-core watch and design fans ache for the Mach 2000, as well as the now iconic Nautic Ski.

The Lip Nautic Ski

And the Nautic Ski is enjoying a best “second life” ever, with the return of smaller watches on the radar of most watch fans. When I visited Lip four years ago, the brand had been living sort of a diluted life, really treated by the (then) owners as only a brand label for watches and not the watch brand that Lip truly is.

Philippe and Pierre-Alain Bérard

Enter the Berards

At the time of my visit, the Berard family was producing Lip under a license, but had not yet fully taken formal control.
The Berards, Philippe and his son Pierre-Alain, have now taken full ownership of Lip ­– and have reinvigorated it.  I am not here to criticize the previous owners.  I am, however, here to applaud the Berards, and the entire team at Lip.

How do you manage a legend?  Curious to relate, Lip stirs a lot of emotions in not only watch fans, but in the French consciousness.  But prior to the Berard’s, that emotional connection was more of a sense of nostalgia.  But have no doubts as to how serious they are taking their stewardship of Lip. 

The latest Lip release, for example, underscores their commitment with a reissue of the Rallye Chronograph.  Recently only available as a quartz piece, this new limited edition is much closer to the original with an automatic movement.

The new Lip Rallye Chronograph

The watch was announced recently as a pre-order item, and by all accounts it has been a pretty hot item.

The energy

In the years before the Berards, Lip was really not what it once was, or even what it could be.  Since the Berards? I hate hyperbole, but walking around the streets of Besançon, Paris, and the offices and workshop at Lip, I really felt a new sense of energy and the passion.  I really felt why Lip  connects on the level that it does with fans and the public at large.

It would be easy to do a Blancpain and “start from year zero,” but the team at Lip live in the real world, one where you don’t manufacture history. To that end, they have a rather unusual (in today’s watch world) department that handles vintage Lip questions, assessments, and if I understood correctly, possible restoration.

Inside the Lip Workshop.

And while it would be easy for the Berards to simply have bought the name and turn to a white label company for everything, it was very clear to me that Lip clearly represents something special to them, and I got that same feeling touring around the new facilities that they have installed for the watchmakers working on more complicated and vintage pieces.

Vintage Lip.

It is not enormous, but it is not insignificant either.  And I think what is encouraging about it to me is that it represents the first step forward.

While it would be easy for Lip recreate itself as a reborn pricey brand, which is something it is not and never was, Lip has held the line on pricing. In a world where brands both big and small jack-up their prices only to jettison their unwanted stock to the grey market where it is discounted down to the bare bones, Lip offers something novel – a great watch at a fair price.

Now I realize that everyone wants to go to Switzerland to visit the historic Maisons, and that’s fair enough. But if you are really a fan of watches, history and culture I urge you to get yourself to Besançon and soak up all of the history and charm that this wonderful city has to offer.

James Henderson pens the Tempus Fugit website, where this article first appeared. 

 

Bulova recently dug deep into its vast design vault and – with the assistance of collectors – emerged last week with the Accutron Legacy collection, twelve limited edition automatic watches that re-imagine eye-catching 1960s and 1970s Accutron designs.

The collection, available now online and in select stores with each design limited to 600 watches, all feature sapphire crystals, a Sellita-based automatic movement and are water resistant to 30 meters. All are priced at less than $1,500.

Most retain what are now unisex sizes, from 34mm to 38.5mm in diameter, and almost all are sold in both silver-tone steel and gold-tone steel cases. While several offer steel or gold-tone bracelets, most echo the era and come with croco-embossed or retro-style leather straps.

Rather than display all the new Accutron Legacy models, here is an edited selection of our favorites.

This new Accutron 505, based a 1965 original by the same name, features a 33mm case and is offered in gold-tone ($1,450) and silver-tone steel ($1,390).

 

This new 38mm Legacy model echoes the 21343-9W from 1971 and features a silver-tone octagonal-like dial design with applied faceted hour markers.

 

With an asymmetrical case and crown placement at 4 o’clock, this Accutron Legacy collection luxury watch is based on 1960s “521” model. $1,450 in gold-tone.

 

This new 34mm model references the “203” from the 1960s. $1,450.

 

Based on the “412” from the original 1960’s collection, this new model is 34mm in diameter. $1,450.

 

Side view of the new 412 Accutron Legacy model, measuring 12.5mm thick.

 

The “R.R.-O”, first launched in 1970, has been reimagined as part of the Legacy collection. $1,290.

 

The new 34mm Accutron 565, based on the 1965 original. A unique cross-hatching detail was added to the already visually distinctive asymmetrical case. $1,390.

 

The backof the new 565, showing the Sellita-based automatic movement inside.
This Accutron limited edition Legacy collection timepiece reimagines a watch from 1960, the Date and Day Q. $1,390.

 

This Legacy Accutron takes the original “261” first launched in 1971, and updates it with an automatic movement and a 38.5mm case. $1,390.

 

Grand Seiko continues its yearlong celebration of the first Grand Seiko collection it debuted six decades ago with a new Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition powered by automatic Caliber 9S65, the impressive technical upgrade of the Caliber 9S55.

Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition

The dial and layout of the steel-cased watch echoes the 60th anniversary models presented earlier this year, with their blue dials and historically referenced hands and markers. Here, however, Grand Seiko adds a standard-beat automatic model to the anniversary lineup (the previously announced example features a Hi-Beat 36000 caliber).

Caliber 9S65 beats at a more traditional 28,800 bph and delivers a power reserve of 72 hours and a precision rate of +5 to –3 seconds a day.

Oxidation blue

The automatic caliber here is also marked on its visible rotor with a special shimmering blue color, created using an oxidation process that both echoes the blue dial and is meant to mirror light seen in the morning through the windows of the new Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi and Shinshu studios.

The Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi.

Grand Seiko has applied the blue hue to the titanium sections of the oscillating weight, adding anniversary text and date and the Grand Seiko logo. All of this, framed in a red ring (to recall the “red of the morning sun”) is visible through the watch’s sapphire crystal caseback.

Caliber 9S65. Grand Seiko has significantly enhanced the basic performance of this caliber, and has also redesigned the way in which the oscillating weight winds the mainspring.

This new Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition watch is offered as limited edition of 2,500. Price: $5,200.

Specifications: Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Automatic Limited Edition (SBGR321)

Movement: Caliber 9S65, 28,800 vibrations per hour (8 beats per second) Accuracy (mean daily rate): +5 to –3 seconds per day. Power reserve: 72 hours.

Dial: Blue with date and red-tipped seconds hand.

Case: 40mm by 13mm
steel case and bracelet, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, see-through screw case back, rotor with blue color and grand Seiko lion logo, screw-down crown. 
Water resistance to 100 meters. Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m

Bracelet: Three-fold steel clasp with push button release.

Price: $5,200 (Limited edition of 2,500)

 

Just ahead of the re-opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on August 29, the museum and Bulova team up to celebrate the museum’s 150th anniversary in 2020 with the Bulova MET150 Edition, a special edition Bulova watch.

The Bulova Met150. Sales of the $295 quartz-powered watch benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Bulova Met150 edition utilizes the historic Aerojet design silhouette from the 1960s, in 39mm stainless steel case with silver-tone crown and accents on a black dial. The quartz-powered watch features a three-hand calendar function, box mineral glass, and smooth grain black leather strap with red contrast stitching. Bulova places the Met logo is on the dial in the museum’s signature red hue.

The timepiece has launched digitally as part of The Met150 Edit on The Met Store website for Met members and will also be available at The Met Fifth Avenue once it reopens this Saturday, August 29. All proceeds from the sale of each watch ($295) will support the Museum’s collection, study, conservation and presentation of more than 5,000 years of art. Bulova, which since 2008 has operated as a separate brand within the Citizen Watch Corporation, was founded in New York City in 1875 and maintains its headquarters in the city.  

In 2020, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is recognizing the 150th anniversary of its founding with a dynamic range of exhibitions and programs. Highlights of the year include “Making The Met, 1870–2020” and displaying new gifts throughout the Museum. More information is available at metmuseum.org/150.

After ten years of research, Bulova’s Accutron brand this week unveils a new type of watch movement that relies on electrostatic energy to help power its hands, and places the movement into two new Accutron watches.

The Accutron Spaceview 2020

The new watches, the Accutron Spaceview 2020 and the Accutron DNA, are the premiere models within the newly separated Accutron brand, and each feature designs that echo the dress of the historical Bulova Accutron Spaceview of the 1960s, the world’s first electronic watch (powered by tuning fork technology).

Accutron DNA models.

The movement

The new Miyota-built movement, which Bulova previewed in 2019, relies on both a power cell and on spinning turbines that react to the action of the wearer’s wrist to re-charge the cell.

The larger of the three electrostatic dial-side rotors, which is actually a motor, spins furiously while the watch is worn to directly power the seconds hand. The smaller two electrostatic generators, propelled by a more conventional rotor inside the movement, electrostatically charge the power cell, the integrated circuit and the quartz-based timing components that control the hour and minutes hands.

The watch’s energy is stored in an accumulator cell that powers two motors. Integrated circuits synchronize the motors to provide accuracy to +/- 5 seconds a month. Depending on how often the watch is worn, Accutron says it expects the electrostatic power feature will allow the watch to replenish its power for up to a decade without requiring a cell replacement.  

In addition, Accutron has built a power-saving function into the new movement. After a certain period of inactivity, this function will stop the seconds hand to alert the wearer that power is being conserved. An even more comprehensive power-save feature, called the ‘energy conserving function,’ stops all of the hands, which prevents power from being depleted.

Two models

Both new Accutron watches display the same shade of green on bridges and/or case rings to clearly reference historical Bulova Accutron watches, notably the Accutron Spaceview.

The Accutron Spaceview 2020 Limited Edition, which is packaged with a special book on Accutron.

The Spaceview 2020 most directly recalls the open, avant-garde design of the original Spaceview, which offered a clear view of its tuning fork electronics.

The new watch offers a 43.5mm stainless steel case and clear case ring with dot-shaped primary hour markers, fit to a black leather strap. A limited edition Spaceview 2020, with a green case ring, will also be available packaged in a deluxe box set with an illustrated book “From the Space Age to the Digital Age.”

Bulova took a few more liberties when designing the Accutron DNA, which offers a more contemporary adaptation. The Accutron DNA case ring is a sportier with its squared primary markers and its sapphire crystal is domed. Case ring color choices of green, blue, black or gold-tone offer more variety.

The new Accutron DNA

In addition, the Accutron DNA is attached to the wrist with what appears to be a nicely integrated black rubber strap, and the watch’s case is also larger, measuring 45.1 mm in diameter.

Prices: Accutron Spaceview 2020: $3,450; Accutron Spaceview 2020 Limited Edition: $4,000; Accutron DNA: $3,300.

 

We know Jeff Stein as a leading collector of vintage Heuer chronographs, who occasionally dabbles in the newer TAG Heuer models.  It caught our eye when, twelve hours after he received his Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph in July, Jeff posted on Instagram that this watch was his “favorite TAG Heuer chronograph, ever . . . and even though you won’t see the name on the watch, the best looking Autavia-inspired chronograph, ever.” 

Below,  Jeff tells us more about his infatuation with this very interesting watch.

The new TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph.

Can you give us the “elevator version” of the Fragment Design Heuer 02 chronograph?

The watch was designed by Hiroshi Fujiwara, a god in the world of streetwear and the creator of Fragment Design. Fujiwara has designed all sorts of interesting things such as guitars for Eric Clapton, sneakers for Nike and Converse, and headphones for Beats. In the watch world, he has designed watches for Rolex and Zenith, as well as a Carrera for TAG Heuer, in November 2018. 

On the Heuer 02 chronograph, Fujiwara incorporated the design language of a 1970s Heuer Autavia into a TAG Heuer Formula 1 chronograph case, with the watch powered by the Heuer 02 movement. 

Why has the Fragment Design Formula 1 chronograph been controversial among the vintage Heuer enthusiasts?

Much of the controversy probably arises from the fact that the watch was inspired by the 1970s Autavias, but resides in the modern case that TAG Heuer uses for its Formula 1 chronographs.  There is no model name on the dial, neither “Autavia” nor “Formula 1,” so some traditionalists might see the watch as something of a Franken, which may be lacking the pure pedigree of either model.

Hiroshi Fujiwara

So how do you come to terms with these issues? 

For years, I have listened to the debates about what is and is not properly identified as an Autavia, a Carrera or a Formula 1.  Some traditionalists say that an Autavia has to be a chronograph, rather than a three-handed watch, or that a Carrera cannot have an outer bezel, because these were the rules when the models were launched in the 1960s. 

I have pretty well gotten over these hard-and-fast rules.  If Jack Heuer had felt constrained by such rules in the 1960s, the Autavia would have never made it from a dashboard timer to a chronograph and we might never have seen Heuer’s automatic chronographs.  Right now, I am more impressed with a brand making great looking, high quality watches and less concerned about the model name on the dial. 

Perhaps there is no requirement for watch models to be binary, so that the brands can incorporate elements of one model into another one.  We saw this recently when TAG Heuer incorporated the colors and style of the 1970s Montreal chronograph into a 1960s-based Carrera, and people liked the result.

The Successor – The last version of the Autavia produced by Heuer in the mid-1980s (Reference 11063, at left) and the Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition, introduced by TAG Heuer in June 2020.

As a physical object, what are your favorite elements of the Fragment Formula 1 chronograph?

I am a big fan of minimalist design, in general, and like the matte black and charcoal gray tones.  This is a great look in cars and Fujiwara has followed a similar approach with the new Formula 1, using a matte black dial. 

The hands and bezel are taken directly from the 1970s Autavias, but Fujiwara has deleted the elements that made those watches busier — the contrasting white registers, the concentric ridges in the registers and the frame around the date window. 

This is like deleting the chrome on a blacked-out car, and it makes the expanses of black more dramatic.  The red and white accents on the dial are the final touches that give the watch its pop. For several years, the Formula 1 chronographs have been housed in a case with geometry that is very close to the c-shape cases of the 1970s Autavias, so this Autavia color scheme from the 1970s looks right in the Formula 1 case.

And what are the intangibles that you enjoy with the new Fragment Design Formula 1 chronograph?

The Autavias of the 1960s and 1970s were the chronographs worn by the top drivers in motorsports.  We see them on the wrists of Mario Andretti, Jo Siffert, Graham Hill, Derek Bell and many other racers.  Beyond the top professionals, Autavias were popular among the amateurs and club racers, particularly with the Viceroy promotion, which offered a $200 Autavia for $88 with proof of purchase of ten packs of Viceroy cigarettes.  

The tachymeter bezel is the symbol of a racing watch, whether on the Autavia, or the Rolex Daytona or the Omega Speedmaster.  TAG Heuer is positioning the Formula 1 collection as the brand’s racing watches, and there is no better flagship for that collection than a watch that incorporates the design elements of the Autavia, the ultimate racing watch of the 1960s and 1970s.

People in the watch world may think of the Formula 1 as TAG Heuer’s “entry level” model.  How do you reconcile that with the $6,150 price tag on this model?

Essentially, this watch, and a couple of other Formula 1 models recently released by TAG Heuer, serve as a clear statement that the TAG Heuer collections will no longer follow a price hierarchy.  There is no entry-level collection or high-end collection.  Instead, the collections are defined by their aesthetics and purposes. 

The Formula 1 is TAG Heuer’s racing watch and the Autavia will be positioned as the watch for adventure.  To me, this is a much more sensible way to position the collections than just based on their price ranges.  TAG Heuer now offers its in-house Heuer 02 movement in four of its six collections, confirming that no model is relegated to “entry-level” status. 

How do you compare the new Fragment Formula 1 with the other Autavias that have been re-issued by TAG Heuer?

With the arrival of this Fragment Design chronograph, there are basically three series of Autavia re-issues.

The TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition flanked by the first of the automatic Autavias, Reference 1163 (circa 1970), and the last one produced by Heuer, Reference 11063 (circa 1983).

In 2003, TAG Heuer offered two versions of a cushion-cased Autavia, one with the black / orange colors and the other with the white / black / blue Siffert colors. 

In 2017, TAG Heuer offered a new Autavia, modeled after the Rindt model from the late 1960s.  After the initial model with the black dial and white registers, we have seen several limited editions, incorporating other color schemes into this same case. 

I like these watches, but the case lacks the real connection to either the manual wind models of the 1960s or the automatic models of the 1970s. 

Every collector will have their own favorite, but to my eye, the Fragment Formula 1 captures the spirit of the 1970s Autavias, with the color scheme, the hands and bezel, and the case geometry. There’s no “Autavia” on the dial, but there’s no doubt about the origins of this watch.

How is the watch on your wrist?

It’s a big watch at 44 millimeters, and I have a small wrist, but it’s a great fit.  The more important measurement might be the thickness, and TAG Heuer has shaved the case to 14.4 millimeters.  That’s not exactly thin, but it makes the 44 millimeter case very wearable.  The bracelet is entirely new, and is relatively thin with a butterfly clasp, which also makes the watch wear smaller.

TAG Heuer has created a new style bracelet for the Fragment Formula 1 chronograph. It’s a five-row stainless steel bracelet, with a folding butterfly clasp.

Why does this watch have the TAG Heuer logo on the dial rather than the Heuer shield?

I believe that TAG Heuer is reserving the “Heuer” shield for re-issues of the heritage models, like the Carrera 160 Years models that we saw earlier in the year.  This Formula 1 is not a re-issue of a heritage model, but a new creation for TAG Heuer.  So it gets the TAG Heuer shield rather than the Heuer shield.What are your personal preferences, as far as the re-issues that so many brands seem to be offering in the year 2020?

In recent years, there has probably been more hand-to-hand combat in the vintage community on the subject of re-issues, re-editions, homages, tributes and the like than on any other single topic.  We see everything from one-to-one recreations of some of the classics, like Breitling and Omega have done with great success, to watches that carry the name, but bear no resemblance to the original models. 

I really like the approach of the two Fragment Design models: take an iconic model, boil it down to find the essence of the design, then punch up the elements that provide the style and feel of the original period. 

Echoing the TAG Heuer Fragment Carrera, Fujiwara also places thunderbolts at the center of the case back and the word “Fragment” between 4 and 5 o’clock.

On the Fragment Carrera, we see the power of the oversized registers; on the Fragment Formula 1, we see the dramatic black paint and the red accents, with the distinctive hands and bezel.  These elements defined the racers chronograph in 1970 and, fifty years later they continue to capture the excitement of racing.  To me, capturing this timelessness is the ultimate success of a re-edition.

Other than the Fragment Design models, which are your favorite of TAG Heuer’s heritage-inspired models?

I like the Limited Edition Skipper that was a collaboration with Hodinkee back in 2017, and the Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition from earlier this year. 

The Skipper captured the colors and spirit of one of the Heuer grails, the original Skipper from 1967, but took some liberties (for example, having a 30-minute register rather than the 15-minute count-down register). 

The Carrera Montreal took even more liberties, incorporating the colors and vibe of a wild-looking 1972 Montreal chronograph into a Carrera case. Once again, the traditionalists may frown, but if you like the look of these watches and enjoy the connection with the Heuer heritage, these are fun watches. 

If you could only have one of the Fragment models, the Carrera or the Formula 1, which would it be?

My first instinct is to dodge the question. The same way that the 1960s Carreras were different from the 1970s Autavias, the choice between the two Fragment models comes down to a matter of the mood and look that you want on a given day.

Fragment Design has developed two limited edition chronographs for TAG Heuer, the new Heuer 02, which draws from the Formula 1 and Autavia models, and the Carrera Heuer 02, from November 2018.

The quiet elegance of the Carrera is very different from the loud excitement of the 1970s Autavias.  Looking at my collection of vintage Heuers, I probably have four times as many 1970s Autavias as 1960s Carreras, so the Fragment probably gets the nod. 

If there will be a third Fragment Design chronograph for TAG Heuer, what are you hoping for?

Fujiwara has done a Carrera and an Autavia, so his third model will have to be a Monaco.  It would be fantastic to see what he would do with the extra-large canvas of the Monaco.

(Click here to read Jeff Stein’s “On the Dash” post about the TAG Heuer Fragment Design Heuer 02 Limited Edition.) 

 

By Laurent Martinez

Over the years, I have noticed a recurring pattern with collectors that are new to the vintage watch market. There seems to be a tendency to compulsively buy too many watches at once without clear motivation as to why.

However, it appears that many new collectors who have taken this approach are ready to part with at least half of their new collection only a few months after building it. Perhaps they were attracted to a certain style. Maybe they enjoyed the mystery of discovering something special.

Or maybe they purchased a watch thinking they got a good bargain despite never having seen or heard of the watch before.

I remember meeting a young collector in Paris who wanted to sell his watches. He came to me with bags of timepieces, but he did not really know what he had.

I unfortunately had to let him know that most of his watches were worthless. Out of the one hundred or so timepieces, he only had a few interesting pieces from Croton and Lip.

Of course, this type of collecting can have a serious impact on your wallet. Buying a watch without knowing much about its value ends up being a waste of time and money. It may end up costing you more to fix the watch than it is actually worth. You may not be able to resell the watch for the price you paid for it or worse; you may be unable to sell it at all—even at a loss.

Do your homework

So, how do you start a vintage watch collection? The most important thing to do is to do your homework to build some guidelines. This does not necessarily mean having to spend hundreds of hours researching watches, but at the very least you should invest time into setting some parameters.

For example, define your preferred style. Dressy or sporty? Simple three-handed dial or a more complex chronograph? Stainless steel or gold? Civilian watches or military-issued timepieces? While you may like all of the above, it is always better to start with some restrictions in mind to avoid getting carried away. This approach will narrow your options and give you more focus.

After you have thoughtfully acquired some pieces that fit your initial criteria, then you can expand the parameters.

 

Estimate value

In terms of estimating the value of a watch, you can always visit websites like eBay and Chrono24 for well-known brands to see what people are asking for. Yet, keep in mind that there is a difference between asking price and market price. Listed prices on eBay are a reflection of what people want to sell the watch for and not necessarily what buyers are willing to pay.

You can choose the “Sold Items” filter to see how much a watch was purchased for. What’s more, you have to also consider commission fees, state taxes, and other dues.

If possible, I always recommend going to flea markets, local watch shows or auction events to have the watch in hand before buying. This approach allows you to inspect the details of the watch and speak to the dealer to ask any questions you may have.

Talking to the seller face-to-face will give you a better sense of how accurately priced the watch is. You learn a lot this way, and most importantly doing this can give you a better feeling of what watches you actually like “in the metal.”

Be wary

Buying online can be trickier since some websites are full of retouched images and incorrect information. However, if you have no choice but to buy online, then my advice is to only purchase from a domestic seller. Buying internationally is always riskier whether its complications with shipping and customs or sourcing from regions that are known to be flooded with counterfeit products.

I would also advise purchasing watches that are priced at the lower end of the market rather than the higher end. It is easier to come to terms with making a mistake that costs a few hundred dollars over one that costs a few thousand.

Quartz or automatic?

As always, it is all about the details. For instance, new or vintage quartz watches rarely hold their value as well as mechanical watches. There is hardly any interest in quartz watches in the secondary market. You would fare better with a hand-wound or automatic watch. If you purchase a lower-priced quartz watch, the financial loss would not be too great.

Yet, remember that high-end brands like Breitling and Omega sell quartz watches and these battery-operated timepieces lose tremendous value in the pre-owned market.

Even in the mid-range market, you would be better off buying an automatic Invicta watch instead of a quartz one. I have a friend who collects mid-range priced watches and he is very successful. There is a flourishing market for mid-priced watches and they sell quickly. He is well versed in these particular watches and understands their specifications and how they differ from high-end timepieces. As such, I always try to pick his brain and ask his advice when I am about to get one of them.

Online queries

Another great tool to gain watch knowledge is checking watch forums. There are some very knowledgeable people there that are especially focused on the technical aspects of watchmaking, which can be very helpful. The great thing is that forum members are usually very helpful and willing to share information. Always cross-reference your information with several sources to make sure it is accurate.

When looking at a watch, always start with the basics. I recently saw a watch with chronograph pushers, but the watch had a calendar dial! Obviously, it was a fake.

And sometimes people pretend to know more than they do. A lady contacted me to appraise a watch she bought at a tag sale. Five of her friends told her it was a real Audemars Piguet with a tourbillon.

I had to regretfully inform her that it was not a tourbillon at 6 o’clock, but in fact, a running seconds subdial.

Take your time

In short, educate yourself, ask questions, and take your time. Do not buy on impulse and set a budget for yourself. If you can, see the watch in real life instead of just photos, but if this is not possible, do not be shy to ask for more pictures.

Most importantly, listen to your gut. Keep these tips in mind when building a watch collection and things should go relatively smoothly. Good luck!

Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches, Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com or visit his store’s site at www.laurentfinewatches.com

 

Each year we take a moment to note the anniversary of the first tourbillon, the whirling regulation device Abraham-Louis Breguet patented on June 26, 1801. Breguet’s invention helped make pocket watches more precise by counteracting many of the negative effects of gravity on timekeeping precision.

Abraham-Louis Breguet

As is the case each year, Montres Breguet has provided us with a few visual reminders of how Breguet’s invention eventually started more than two centuries of tourbillon development by watchmakers.

A Breguet tourbillon

That development, however, was surprisingly slow. Found primarily in pocket watches and the occasional clock, the tourbillon wasn’t adopted for serially produced wristwatches until the 1980s, though a few prototype wristwatches with tourbillons were developed by Omega in 1947 and even earlier by special order at other Swiss manufacturers and by the French maker LIP.

Breguet Tourbillon N°1188

Breguet also reminds us that Abraham-Louis Breguet created only thirty-five tourbillon watches, with fewer than ten known to survive (including the No. 1188, pictured above).

The Breguet N°2567

The House of Breguet possesses several additional historical tourbillon pocket watches, including No. 1176 sold by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1809, and No. 2567 sold in 1812, along with original records that list every single Breguet historical creation.

Many original Breguet tourbillons can be found in the Breguet Boutique & Museum in Place Vendome, Paris.

Here are just a few recent Breguet tourbillon watches that bear witness to the legacy of the man who devised the device, and whose name is on the building.

For 2020, Breguet adorns the dial of its Extra-Thin Self-Winding Tourbillon with a touch of deep blue, by using the traditional grand feu enamel technique.
Engraved caseback of the newest Breguet Extra-Thin Self-Winding Tourbillon.
Breguet this year offers its Marine Tourbillon Équation Marchante 5887 with a rose gold case with a gold dial.
The eye-catching engraved caseback of the Breguet Marine Tourbillon Équation Marchante 5887.

TAG Heuer today introduces a second Carrera collector’s edition to mark the Swiss watchmaker’s 160th birthday.

The new TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition.

The TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition, the new limited edition of 1,000 watches, echoes the brand’s White Heuer Montreal from 1972, complete with that model’s colorful dial marked with then-novel yellow luminescence.

The eye-catching 39mm watch arrives about six months after TAG Heuer started this anniversary year by launching the equally fetching TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Dial Limited Edition, which we discussed here.

TAG Heuer says that a now highly collectible White Heuer Montreal, reference 110503W from 1972, inspired the new watch’s retro design. As a result, TAG Heuer has echoed that watch’s red, yellow and blue coloring scheme.

The White Heuer Montreal from 1972.

The new model somewhat replicates the original dial, though in a current Carrera case with right-side crown rather than a cushion case with a left crown, and without the marked pulsimeter and tachymeter references seen on the original. TAG Heuer has replaced those references with a blue and red ruled scale, and replaces the ‘Montreal’ monicker with ‘Carrera.’

However, the new model echoes the original’s use colorful luminescence, which was just being developed at the time. The TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition, as a result, features a chronograph minute counter (at 3 o’clock) with three curved lines, each colored with yellow SuperLuminova. The same color is also found on the central minute and hour hands. The central chronograph seconds hand is colored with straight red lacquer.  

The dial itself features three blue subdials (with updated hands) protected by a domed ‘glassbox’ sapphire crystal, inspired by the original.

TAG Heuer’s own Caliber Heuer 02 manufacture chronograph movement powers the tribute watch.  The movement, visible from the sapphire caseback, includes a column wheel and a vertical clutch and boasts an impressive eighty-hour power reserve.

Packaged in a special box, TAG Heuer will package the Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition in a special gift box and make it available in July at TAG Heuer boutiques and online at www.tagheuer.com. Price: $6,750

 

Specifications: TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition

Movement: TAG Heuer Caliber Heuer 02 Automatic manufacture movement with column-wheel chronograph, vertical clutch, power reserve of 80 hours.

Dial: 
Blue, white opaline dial, white flange with 60-second/minute scale and three counters (at 3 o’clock: blue minute chronograph counter with yellow SuperLuminova, at 6 o’clock: blue permanent second indicator, at 9 o’clock: blue hour chronograph counter. 
Rhodium-plated minute and hour hands with yellow SuperLuminova. Red lacquered central hand. 
Black printed logo.

Case: 39mm polished steel, polished steel fixed bezel, domed sapphire crystal, polished steel standard crown and pushers, steel screw-down sapphire caseback with special numbered limited-edition engraving. 
Water-resistant to 100 meters.

Strap: Blue alligator leather with polished steel folding clasp and double safety push buttons.

Price: $6,750