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Kristian Hviding Kvam

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Yesterday, a good friend of mine posted his concerns to Instagram about the way Bulova chose to flip both their middle fingers at their own collectors. And it is bad. Read the whole story here:

In January 2018, @reviewspeed bought what was supposed to be a special collector’s edition Bulova watch: The Bulova X Analog/Shift ‘666’ Devil Diver. Marketed as a true copy of the legendary Devil Diver from the 70s, it was going to be produced in an edition of 666 watches, with a special Analog/Shift edition of 30 watches. Deliveries were scheduled for September the same year.

In November 2018, the customers who had bought this special edition received a letter, from the Marketing VP of Bulova, stating that they had some “issues” with production. They had to drop a very essential feature, the day window, to ensure the watch would pass ISO 6425 and be a true divers watch.

Letter from Bulova to collectors regarding Devil Diver 666

By dropping the day window, and thus abandoning the idea of a true replication of the Devil Diver, Bulova stuck their customers with a lesser watch. A Sellita 220 movement was announced for the new limited edition at launch. My guess is that Bulova replaced this movement with an already ISO certified Sellita 200, and this may be the reason for the way in which this watch changed. I would also reckon that “production problems” may actually have been ISO problems with the Sellita 220.

What is even worse

Apart from this blunder, what is even worse as far as I am concerned, is that Bulova, with open eyes it would seem, conceals this fact, and even falsifies their own history in ways that are very obvious.

In their Assouline published book “Bulova – A History of Firsts” there is a picture on pages 166-167 referencing both the original Devil Diver, and the new reedition of the watch.

The original photo for the book was taken by the infamous @Atommore and used for the “2018 Gala and Charity Auction” hosted by Horological Society of New York.

Left: New limited edition. Right: Original 1972 edition
Page 166 and 167 from the book Bulova History of Firsts
Page 166-167 in Bulova – History of Firsts

Below you see a photo from the same shooting that was published in WatchTime.

From WatchTime article, Photo by Atom_more

So what is the problem here?

Well, there are several. First of all Bulova chose to misrepresent the remake of the watch by using their prototype with a day window. The book may have been published before the change was made, but the end result is that the watch that eventually hit the market looks different than the watch in the book. Second, and more problematic, is that they photoshopped new hands onto the original 1972 Devil Diver in the book. 

Left: 1972 version as seen in Bulova History of Firsts, after Photoshop. Right: Exact same watch in original picture before Photoshop.

Books, especially those published by the brand itself, represent the most accurate source of knowledge for serious vintage collectors. Why Bulova would choose to forge the history of such a significant watch is beyond me. They took a perfectly nice looking vintage watch with matching lume and changed it for the worse. The hands now stick out like a sore toe. It is time that Bulova starts taking pride in their collectors instead of giving them the shaft.

Get a grip Bulova!

“187 L.A. trademark, 
don’t come to the killing fields if you ain’t got no fucking 
heart!”


That was the band Downset back in 1994. – Yes, I am old.
187 is Police code for murder, and these lines were what first struck me when Audemars Piguet released their crazy named new watchline. Code 11.59.
And while everyone paid to not think themselves praise the watch, the rest have uttered everything from shock to disgust.
Well, do Audemars Piguet have a heart for making watches?

At first glance the watch just looked stupid. Looking at it from the front it was an uninteresting dial and a strange looking case. Bloggers and Instagrammers were soon to compare these designchoices with low-end watches and Kickstarter crap. They do look similar, check it out for yourselves.
The new inhouse movements looked quite promising thou.

While everyone else bashed the watch, I wanted to try it on before going crazy on it. I have now had time to study the watch and actally wearing it for a breif period of time.

Code 11.59 Audemars Piguet Chronograph wristshot

Code 11.59 – Hands On

Audemars Piguet somehow managed to make a beautifully crafted watch with a bizzare, almost schizofrenic, look to it.
It ended up with a radical and interesting watch case, and a generic and quite boring dial. Even up close. I just can’t stand those hour markers, and don’t get me started on the font. It destroys an otherwise great watch.
Talking about the simple watch and the chronographs now. The perpetual calendar is something very special.

Code 11.59 Audemars Piguet Chronograph
Code 11.59 Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar

I love how they shaped the case. It sits great on the wrist. Despite being a rather large watch, it clasps the wrist and feels unstrenuous. Audemars Piguet also hid a Royal Oak inside this watch. And as on the Royal Oak, the case on Code 11.59 is finished to perfection. The light bounces off the edges on it, just like on the Royal Oaks, the Offshores and the Concepts.
Yes, the case is radical, but so was the Royal Oak. No one liked that watch back in the 1970s. And not to talk about the more recent Concept line.

Code 11.59 Audemars Piguet

Do try it on for yourself. I recommend it. The watch is great. And I did not get paid to say that. Really!

Ending Note: It is my firm belief that Audemars Piguet will come with more and better dial design the coming months. I belive they know they fucked up.

It is a rear occasion these days that I write a local piece that mainly interest Norwegians. So you are warned, but it may interest you anyway.

It has been announced the last few months by the eminent Norwegian blog, Horae, that Urmaker Jørgensen lost their authorized dealership for both Rolex and Breitling. This AD have served the watch community for years by providing impeccable service, a positive attitude towards the community and most important, heavily discounted Rolex sports models. Losing both these brands is a sure path towards the demise of a once huge Norwegian watch dealer.
The official statement is that Rolex demands to much when ADs have to invest in rebuilding their store, and some ADs doesn’t have the muscle or will to carry that weight. Usually that is BS to conceal the correct reasons.

I am an outspoken part of the watch community here in Norway, and I need to comment on these news. I am not about dancing on someone’s grave, whomever it may be, but no one seem to understand the ins and outs of this story. And I may shed some light.
Well, here is my side of this story:

  1. As everyone knows Urmaker Jørgensen sold their Rolex watches at 8-10 % discount.
  2. Situated far outside of modern civilization the watches are being sold by email or telephone (Sorry Tromsø, it is the truth)
  3. I have knowledge about two occasions where Rolex watches have been sold and offered above retail. The watches had been discontinued from Rolex and prices were going up. He had kept one in the safe and the other came in the last shipment just after announcement. Both stories have been confirmed by Jørgensen himself to me, in an angry phone call after I tried to confront him in an open forum. Documentation exists of course. Receipts were made.

Rolex knows about all of this. And they do not approve anymore. They do not want to be sold at discount. They want their customers to be taken seriously, have a good shopping experience, and above all they do not want to be sold at mail order service. It is as simple as that.

Now what happened with Breitling is another issue. I am not sure of the technicalities. They do have a new CEO with a new strategy, and I do not believe that they want to be the head brand of a dealership anyway. And every major brand have heard about the three bullet points above.

I will be surprised if Urmaker Jørgensen survives this mess. It is sad. But it is all true.


When the dust now have settled after the release of the Speedy Tuesday 2 – that is the “Ultraman” – I thought it’d be timely to have a look back at the ST1.

The Speedy Tuesday 1, or the Speedy Tuesday if you ask me, was a mess of a release. It literally sold out in a few minutes once released online. And you may remember people waiting for over a year for their order.
It turned out a lot of people bought the watch just to make a profit. Well, most failed. The prices did not skyrocket like the Snoopy I reviewed a while back, or like the Alaska Project or Tintin have the last few months. I am also laughing hard at the idiots who didn’t learn in time for the release of the ST2. The ST2 is going at retail or lower here in Norway at the moment.

Well, have the prices stayed down because of the watch, or is it just a reaction to the speculators of the watch community?

Omega Speedy Tuesday ST1

Speedy Tuesday ST1

I must admit that I bought this watch at its online release because I felt it would have a historical significance. Besides that fact, I was really missing a Speedmaster in my collection and I thought this watch was beautiful. The brushed case and hands, the matte reversed panda dial and the font on the radial subdials are just stunning. I am also a sucker for the vintage feel that the hesalite glass brings to the watch.
In my opinion a drunk man must have designed the superluminova pattern on the Speedy Tuesday. I could easily have done without it. But in reality it doesn’t bother me much.

After a year with this watch I have used it quite a lot. Sometimes for weeks. And I still feel for it like I did in the beginning. It is a very comfortable watch to wear. I like it on a strap. The design of this Speedmaster is so strong that I am still fascinated about it a year in. Every time I take it out of the box I feel lucky I got one.

Omega Speedy Tuesday ST1

Robert-Jan Broer

I had to ask the co-creator of this baby – Robert-Jan Broer from the eminent Fratellowatches – about his feelings for the watch as well:

-I love the ST1, it is a dream come true for my team and myself. People compare this watch – understandably – with the Speedy Tuesday 2 “Ultraman”. And although I love that one too, these are completely different watches. That makes it fun, at least for me.
Where the Ultraman is a bit more of a ‘thematic’ watch, perhaps like the Snoopy, the ST1 is a watch inspired by the Speedmasters that were qualified by NASA for the Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s. Brushed case, radial dial and on top, a reverse panda dial. It is not a very flashy watch, but it also wasn’t supposed to be. We see that especially people who normally are into vintage watches, like it a lot.

Omega Speedy Tuesday ST1

Robert-Jan also sums up his personal relationship to the watch:

-During the honeymoon period of a new watch, it always gets most wear. But over time, you also start to wear other watches (Speedmasters) again. I have a modest collection of Speedmasters, dating from the 1960s till the current releases, and I find myself wearing the ST1 pretty regularly. I have a number of favourites, but I try to wear them all. Certain awkward models like the Speedmaster 125, X-33 and perhaps the bit less awkward Mark II get minor wear, but the regular Speedmaster (Professional) watches are all in the rotation programme, including the ST1. For me, the ST1 and ST2 remain very special so perhaps they have a slight advantage compared to the others. In all seriousness, I think that the ST1 is different enough from the standard Moonwatch or other limited or special editions that it is a really nice piece to own and wear.

Final thoughts

The Speedy Tuesday 1 is a historical watch in all aspects. It was the first social media related watch release and it was the first watch in history to be sold entirely online. From a premium brand of course. —Don’t hit me with that kickstarter shit, it doesn’t count as watches. —

Panerai have always had a tight grip on their Paneristi community with many releases solely to this group of watch nerds, but no other premium brand have done anything close to what Omega did with the release of this first Speedy Tuesday.

It may be too early to call it a true collectors item, but in my opinion the collectability level is high on the Speedy Tuesday ST1. And in my opinion market prices on both ST1 and ST2 both have stayed down because of the massive supply on the second hand market have kept it that way. At the moment ST1 supply is drying out. So get one before the prices shoot up.

Omega Speedy Tuesday ST1

Yesterday I read a post on Facebook, from a lady that had just bought her first Panerai. She had debated the purchase with her watch friends and she was hearing that the watch was not Panerai enough. It apparently did not have enough DNA as the purists say.
Good for her, she still treated herself with the 40 mm Panerai.

Panerai PAM048

Do not throw the first stone

Then I remembered that I was going to pick up my newest purchase today. And you simply won’t find a modern Panerai with more DNA than that one. And I must reflect a little bit on why.

First and foremost, I am a collector. I buy watches for several reasons, most importantly that I like them. Then there needs to be an x-factor. The collectability factor. A limitation, a historical piece, a detail on that model that doesn’t come around too often or simply that the watch speaks to me (I’ve done another piece on the subject – read it).

Now this Panerai that I am getting today ticks all the boxes. For some time now I have been looking for a Radiomir with a dial that I actually like. I am not very keen on the California dials and such.

At SIHH last year Panerai released two controversial Radiomir watches. Well, at the start they weren’t controversial, but they soon became the most discussed watches of last year. I don’t believe that Panerai really wanted the focus that came in the aftermath of the thoughts on the watches by, the eminent guru of all things Panerai, Jose Perez.

I decided I wanted one or the other. And today I got the PAM720.

Panerai Radiomir PAM 720

PAM720

This watch was on its release kind of a disappointment. It was supposed to be a replica of the 3646C, one of the earliest Panerai watches. Developed for and worn by Decima Flottiglia MAS, who was an Italian commando frogman unit during the second world war.
But the watch had the wrong hands upon its release. They were not blued like on the original 3646C. They appeared gold on all the pictures from Geneva.
The watch was then forgotten by everyone. Even the Paneristis kind of forgot this one.

Then when the watch recently hit the stores Panerai had changed the hands to the correct blued version, like on 3646C.

The backdrop of these watches involves the history of both Italian and German WW2 divers. And the controversy was actually about this war history of the manufacture.
I will not go into it in detail as Perezcope did a superb article on it.
In my opinion people should read up on their war history and their Swiss watch history before they criticise Panerai for this release. So if you don’t like these watches over some distant war history, you can suck my balls too.

I must say that I love this reedition of the 3646C. Limited to 500 pieces it is hard to come by. I also like the fact that the design is so true to its origin. The domed crystal, the beige fauxtina and the blued hands. In the Radiomir case with the onion crown it is just beautiful and pure Panerai.

Panerai Radiomir PAM 720

Panerai Radiomir PAM 720

And here I am, dissing purists.

I like purist watches. But I do not like the message that purists push about what is correct and what is not. No matter if we are talking watches or tits.

I love the PAM 684, a 42 mm gold Submersible. Any Panerai purist would frown. Right?

DISCLAIMER: Note that I am using “Panerai purist”, not “Paneristi” as I find most of them to be liberal, thoughtful and cool.

Panerai PAM684 Submersible

 

There are only a few times in a collector’s lifetime that you come across a truly rare piece. This specific Heuer Luftforsvaret, SG 1550, bears the history of not only a man, but also that of a community and a country.

Bodø May 27th, 1940:

The negligible city of Bodø [boːdoe] is situated above the Arctic Circle at 67°North. It survived for decades as a coastal city on fisheries and as a trade harbour, and at the time it has a population of about 6000.
May 27th is the day that will change the city and its community for ever. Bodø is bombed to pieces by the Luftwaffe. Over half of the population lost their homes and most of the city’s commercial buildings were lost.

After the war Bodø was rebuilt by the Allied Forces who spend huge amounts on infrastructure and military installations. Just South of the city they establish a massive military air base. Bodø’s proximity close to the border of the Soviet Union makes it an important strategic city for the defence of Norway and of the USA. The Americans want a large base close to the borders of Soviet for several reasons.
One is to keep an eye on Soviet air traffic since flights from Soviet towards the US will pass across the northern part of Norway.
The other reason is that the city can serve as a possible host for armed forces in case of a conflict.
At the brink of the Cold War, Bodø is now one of the most important bases for the Allied Forces on the Northern flank of NATO.

Bodø August 9th, 1974:

Svenn Oddli Heuer Luftforsvaret SG1550 Eggebeck Germany

Svenn Oddli arrive at Bodø Main Air Station (MAS). He is a 27 years old lieutenant at the time and have spent the last 7 years in training with United States Air Force (USAF) and Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF). He has already accumulated plenty of hours in the F-5 Freedom Fighter before joining the 334 Squadron in Bodø. On arrival, the young lieutenant received his personal gear: flight suits, gloves, helmet, oxygen mask, parachute, life vest, combat knife, survival kit and a watch. A Heuer Flyback Chronograph, the SG 1550. I’ll let you know all about that watch a little later.

-Bodø Main Air Station was an attractive base to serve at. And Bodø was characterized by the strong military presence in and around the city evolving it into a metropolis of the north, he says.

-The 70s represent the most tense and active years of the cold war era in terms of Soviet military activity at sea and in air. Norwegian readiness was tested several times a week by Soviet air traffic passing North Cape and flying parallel to and following the Norwegian territorial border. They rarely crossed the line of airspace infringement, but they usually changed course coming towards our coastal line.

Svenn Oddli CF-104 intercept russian reconnaissance aircraft

CF-104 Starfighter

starfighter CF-104 334 skvadron

637 LN-STF CF-104 Starfighter

The 334 Squadron was equipped with F-104 Starfighters to quickly scramble and be airborne to cut off Soviet flights coming close to the Norwegian airspace.

-The Canadian built CF-104 we had in Bodø was an advanced and well equipped airplane for its time. Avionics and both offensive and defensive weapons systems were cutting-edge.
The Starfighter had a bad reputation safety wise because of a large amount of accidents, sadly also with loss of pilots’ life. But you must keep in mind the large number of aircrafts in service around the globe. The F-104 was the backbone of NATOs Air Forces throughout the 60s and the 70s, Mr. Oddli says today.

Asked about his own feelings towards the aircraft he says:
-I found the aircraft to be very stable but demanding, partly because of the short wing span that demanded high speeds at take-off and landing, but also because it had a somewhat limited manoeuvrability caused by a larger swing radius due to the high speed and small wings.

-The strength of the Starfighter was its brutal engine that gave an unrivalled top-speed and climbing ability making the aircraft capable of doing interception missions against intruders at high altitudes. With a top-speed more than two times the speed of sound (>Mach 2) no one could out-fly the F-104, he continues.

RNoAF CF-104

Safety of the Starfighter

-All fighters, no matter the aircraft, will be operated at high speeds and at low altitudes. At the same time the pilot will have to perform other concentration demanding assignments. That be observations, tight manoeuvring or weapons’ delivery. In a scenario like that the F-104 would most definitely work a lesser margin of safety than smaller and more manoeuvrable aircrafts. The Starfighter is not any different from other machines. If you follow the instructions and learn its limitations, the risk is acceptable, says Mr. Oddli.

After WW2, the advanced jet fighter came into operational use with Air Forces all over the World. Training and operation of these new high speed airplanes was often demanding, due to technical defects and shortcomings.
New operational concepts developed throughout the Cold War period. The toll was high, and a large number of aircraft and pilots were lost.

German Luftwaffe got a lot of negative focus as around 200 of their Starfighters were lost in accidents. However, as Germany possessed almost 1.000 F-104s, their accident rate was not higher than most other nations operating the same aircraft.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force operated a total of 45 Starfighter F-104s. Between 1970 to 1983 they lost 13 aircrafts.

-Within a comparatively small Air Force, like the Norwegian, most of the personnel establish close personal relationship to each other. The loss of good colleagues and friends hit you very hard. And during the whole Cold War period these meaningless losses put the darkest shadows on our work to stand up and be ready to defend our country, freedom and democracy, Mr. Oddli concludes today.

CF-104 starfighter NATO northern flank

Heuer SG1550

The Heuer SG1550 is a truly iconic piece. Known to most as the Heuer Bundeswehr it is a sturdy 42 mm Flyback Chronograph. The history of the “Bund” is multifaceted and well documented.
This article classifies the different watches neatly.

The Heuer SG1550 is not a rare watch. You can easily find a good-looking piece. Still there are differences to these watches coming to both aesthetics, mechanics and value. And the Heuer Luftforsvaret is the rarest of them all.

Heuer Luftforsvaret

Heuer Luftforsvaret SG1550 militarywatch norgesnato

Usually driven by a Valjoux 230 movement and a clean “T over 6” dial without the usual 3H logo. What is most unique about Heuer Luftforsvaret is the engraving on the back. A serial number and year of issue below Luftforsvaret. The serial on the case back should ideally match the number between the lugs. Army Watchmakers handled watches coming in for service or repair without regard to matching up the numbers. So some watches lack this feature.

It is not known why RNoAF would issue a Flyback Chronograph to its pilots back in the early 70s. Mr. Oddli says he never used the watch for navigational purposes. He would rather use a large dashboard Chronograph in the fighter.
I believe that the purchase of this watch may have been part of an equipment deal with our allies. My guess is that there was a wish to have a uniformly equipped force throughout NATO. The West-Germans used the Heuer SG1550 in their Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr, so Norwegian Armed Forces would have to find a place for it. Pilots need a watch. I guess it was that simple.

We know that RNoAF commissioned a lot of watches. Not only issued to F-5 and F-104 pilots, but also to helicopter pilots and to ground crew. Watches have also been sold from surplus equipment storage. Illegally of course.

Norwegian collectors have catalogued and documented the known pieces that have surfaced at auctions or among collectors. To this date (May 17th 2018) we know of 38 pieces. All issued between 1972 and 1978. We believe that there are still a couple of watches lying around in the desk drawers of former pilots.

Heuer Luftforsvaret S/N 8904/73

Heuer Luftforsvaret SG1550 militarywatch

Heuer Luftforsvaret SG1550 militarywatch

Mr. Oddli’s watch came into his hands when he came to Bodø in 1974, and it was amongst the personal gear he took with him when he left service on Sept 21st, 1978.

According to his own records the watch has been on his wrist with him on combat missions with the CF-104 as well as regular flights as a pilot or backseat on the F-5 Freedom Fighter, F-16 Fighting Falcon, P-3B Orion, C-130 Hercules, Twin Otter, Saab Safir, Bird Dog, Cub, as well as a passenger on military helicopters Sea King and Bell UH-1B.

When he left Capt. Oddli had nearly 1.000 combat missions on the CF-104 before he went into civilian aviation in 1978 and became a pilot for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).
He stayed on in the Reserve Forces and left service for good as a Lt.Col in 1995. Staying on in SAS were he was Chief Pilot for almost two decades before retirement in 2008.
In civilian aviation Mr. Oddli flew DC-8, DC-9, MD-80, MD-90, Airbus A340 and Airbus A330.

Mr. Oddli

Svenn Oddli CF-104 637, 2017

Learning to know Mr. Oddli and talking to him about his period in the RNoAF as a fighter pilot and his later career in civilian traffic is rewarding. Mostly, for an aviation geek like myself, it is exciting to hear all the stories. Mr. Oddli have first hand combat experiences in a period at the height of the Cold War. He was also in active duty when there were unprecedented technological advancements of flight in both military and civilian aviation.

About his relationship with the watch he states that it was among two pieces that he for sentimental reasons brought on many of his firsts. His Heuer Luftforsvaret and an original WW2 Spitfire bomber jacket was with him on his first flights on a new aircraft, or his first take-off or landing on a new airport.

S/N 8904/73 was with him on the first take-off ever from OSL Airport’s new runway in 1997. The Airport was still under construction and set to open a year later. Among the passengers on the test flight was the prime minister of Norway.

MD90 OSL first takeoff

Final thoughts

To me, a Norwegian watch collector, this watch is the ultimate grail. It has all the attractive traits of a collectible watch. Heuer is a coveted brand; the watch has known history from origin; it was an “official” military pilots watch from an important time in our Norwegian history; and the engravings on the case back makes it one of a kind.
Further this specific watch has a nice patina. Stunning ochre yellow hands and cool green number indexes are customary for these watches. Case, bezel and crown shows a life well lived.
Untouched by watchmaker hands it doesn’t run very well if I am going to be honest. Except for the flyback chronograph mechanism that surprised me with an awesome and supersmooth feel to it.
The Heuer Luftforsvaret is a must-have piece in my collection.

Heuer Luftforsvaret SG1550 militarywatch

 

This year I attended SIHH in Geneva for the first time. It was a crazy week and I needed some distance to it before I could write about it. Being a noob in that environment is hard. What to do, were to go, who to talk to – that was my questions before I left my safe office. Thanks to a couple of hardened friends I figured out I had to be everywhere, do everything and talk to as many people as I could. And I did.

For those of you who have not been there, SIHH is a watch fair were brands unveil their novelties for the year. Dealers, journalists and VIPs join in on the fun for the whole week. I was invited by Richemont and went there as a journalist. Before I left I had a wish to see brands and watches that I have never seen or rarely see in Norway. Brands like Audemars Piguet, Kari Voutilinen, HYT, MB & F, Ulysse Nardin, Greubel Forsey, and many more, does not have a Norwegian dealer and is hard to find and study in the flesh here. The SIHH fair is also an opportunity to see and experience rare watches that I will probably never see again, like the new L’ASTRONOMO by Panerai.

Here is my list of what to remember if you decide to go to SIHH (based on hard learned experience):

DOs:

  • Learn the 3 kiss greeting – you may find a norwegian hug cozy, but it is very inappropriate.
  • Hang with a young crowd – they will often say “whaaat….you don’t look forty!” – It’s really amazing.
  • Go to Vacheron Constantin for morning coffee. They have the best barista and coffee in the building.
  • Dress nice. Remember that it is only Kristian Haagen that is allowed to wear beat up cargo pants. He’s earned it, you haven’t.

DONT’s:

  • Not everyone understand Scandinavian humour, and don’t use irony. Ever.
  • Never take off your shoes in public after a long day in the Expo hall.
  • Most important. Never drop a 1 mill EUR watch on the floor – It went well, not a scratch to the watch, but I thought for a second the lady would have a heart attack. I guess I will be banned from ever going to SIHH again.

So that’s it. Learn from a noob.

The rest will be a picture heavy feature. I always intend to give you good quality shots of watches. So it may take some time to load page.

Best of SIHH 2018

SIHH is also an overwhelming sensory experience. All the brands represent themselves with luxurious stands showcasing their watches and novelties.
From the second I entered the massive expo hall I was like a kid in a candy store. Design, artwork, food, drinks, loud music and watches just kept coming at me. Non-stop. So much fun!

Some brands had more interesting novelties than others, and I will try to give you my honest opinion on the best ones. Bare in mind that I like a classic look but I am also weak for modern madness. You’ll seewhen I expose my favorite novelty at the end of this post.

Panerai

If you followed the releases this year you may ask why Panerai is on my best of list. And you are absolutely right. They did not release anything very exciting this year. But what they did was to renew their whole base model lineup. What that means is that they decided to spend SIHH this year scrapping ebauche movements and introducing in-house movements on all their watches. I am all for that!

Also exciting is that they introduced 38 mm Luminor Due. For a smaller wrist  as they say themselves in their presskit. In Scandinavia that is a synonym for ladies. I will finally consider getting a Panerai for my wife.

IWC

Celebrating a 150th anniversary is not something you forget in the watchindustry. And IWC did not either. I had pretty high hopes for this year and I must say that I was a little disappointed at the beginning of the week. Their release was not what I had hoped for. But then I had the opportunity to spend almost an hour fondling their novelties. By the end of that hour I was sold.
What IWC did this year was to introduce lacquered dials on a wide range of their models. Pilots, Portuguese, Portofino, and Da Vinci will be seen in 12 layers of white or blue lacquer. And the new references inspired by the Pallweber pocket watches.

The Pallweber in red gold.IWC Schaffhausen Pallweber SIHH 2018

And the new perpetual calendar with the lacquer dial.IWC perpetual calendar 150th

The beautiful Annual Calendar Pilots watch.IWC Pilots annual calendar sihh 2018 blue

Jaeger LeCoultre

I guess no one could really miss the Polaris release this year. In the norwegian community it certainly stirred up the interest for Jaeger LeCoultre. I have always been a fan of vintage inspired watches, but lately there have just been too many. And as rumors started going about the Polaris being reintroduced a few days before the official release I was sceptical.
Jaeger LeCoultre nailed it! What a beauty. And about time they celebrated this iconic diver.

The MemovoxJaeger LeCoultre Polaris Memovox SIHH 2018

And the good looking golden chronographJaeger LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph Gold SIHH 2018

A. Lange & Söhne

While everyone was talking about the new and groundbreaking triple split I set my eyes on a classic beauty. First I want to say that I cannot be objective when it comes to A. Lange & Söhne. I love what they are trying to do. Making classic after classic and always with an eye for developing new and complicated movements. Always true to their design language and philosophy. You may call them conservative, but I find them to be nothing but uncompromising.

Well, the new Saxonia Moon Phase is nothing but beautiful. It comes in both white and pink gold.alangesohne saxonia moon phase sihh 2018

Another personal favourite was the new 1815 chronograph. I have said it many times. I love that watch.alangesohne 1815 chronograph sihh 2018

And I have to have the triple split in here. Front may look unsuspicious at first glance but the back reveals a complicated watch. Exactly what I am talking about. Design is classic, complication is groundbreaking.alangesohne triple split sihh 2018

alangesohne triple split back sihh 2018

Girard Perregaux

I have to say that I knew nothing about this brand before SIHH. Nothing.
Of course I had seen pictures and had heard about the brand, but I had never touched one, and I had never really buried myself in the details.
I found the Laureato Ceramic Skeleton to be very interesting. The Laureato is a classic GP design, but in the all black ceramic dress and light as a feather it was a nice acquaintance.GP Girard Perregaux Laureato Skeleton Ceramic SIHH 2018

Audemars Piguet

Already trapped in their own Royal Oak they did not release anything but this year. Not of importance anyway. I have no idea what happened to the rest of the references from this respected manufacture.
Still they continue to develop this line of watches with new technical achievements every year.

As with many of the other brands rumors started going in the days before SIHH and pictures of the novelties were revealed. I was once again sceptical before I had my appointment with AP.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Royal Oak Offshore. Even though I liked the reedition of the 1993 model of the Offshore my heart skipped a beat when I saw the new case and bezel on the Tourbillon Chronograph. Audemars Piguet is one of the houses that bring us contemporary design features and they are constantly reinterpreting their classic Royal Oak. Watch nerds find this irritating, but I find it refreshing. At least for Audemars Piguet. This has been a strategic direction for them with the Royal Oak for the last few decades. And I like their Rock’n Roll attitude towards their heritage.
I guess similar stunts for the Patek Philippe Nautilus would be heavily frowned upon, even by me.

Audemars Piguet SIHH 2018 Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph

Audemars Piguet SIHH 2018 Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon Chronograph

The Offshore Chronograph in camo colors was interesting in the flesh.Audemars Piguet Offshore Camo

And of course the RD2 – the 6.3 mm thick perpetual calendar.Audemars Piguet RD2 SIHH 2018

Vacheron Constantin

To finish off with my choice for Best in Show 2018 – the introduction of a new line from Vacheron Constantin – Fiftysix.
Inspired by the ref.6073 from 1956 (of course) they now offer a 40 mm rounded case and almost sector like dials on this new lineup. This was really a much needed facelift to their Quai de l’ile models. I never could swallow that case. In my opinion they now have a much more elegant watch with the elegance I expect from the maison.

Here is the Complete Calendar in pink gold.Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix 56 complete calendar sihh 2018

And the Day Date in steel.Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix 56 day date sihh 2018

That pretty much sums it up. Remember to follow my Instagram for pictures of all the great watches from this year.
And visit my book store.

When most watch collectors talk about the IWC Ingenieur series they think about the handsome Gerald Genta designed Collection SL from 1976 onwards and moving into their modern and sometimes obnoxiously large and technical chronographs. To me IWC’s most important Ingenieur’s were produced 20 years earlier.

I guess many of you know the feeling of falling in love. There is nothing like the tingling feeling and the mixture of anxiety and happiness when you see someone you love, and when I first laid eyes on a vintage IWC Ingenieur ref. 666 – that was how I felt. I know it sounds stupid, but that was it. Watches had been a hobby for a long time, but this watch spoke to me on a level I had not yet experienced. I cannot explain why exactly this model was so interesting to me at that time, or why it made me feel like I did.
Back in 2003 or 2004 I had just started to explore the vintage watch world and I came across this ref. 666. It was too expensive for me at that time but I started to research these older IWC Ingenieur watches.

IWC Ingenieur models

Ref. 666

IWC Ingenieur 3570 866 3233 666

In 1954 the first IWC Ingenieur saw the light of day with the new Cal. 85x movements. It was a pretty modest looking wristwatch, but with the real value on the inside of the case.

These post-war years at the brink of the space age was the era of science. White coats and laboratory’s was the perfect picture of the new age. IWC had for many years been in the forefront of the technical advance of watchmaking with Albert Pellaton running their technical department. So it was only natural to name a family of watches after the rock stars of science, the engineers.

Right after the second world war IWC had made a Pilots watch, the Mark XI, with a manual movement Cal. 89. This movement is known for being super reliable and sturdy. Also this was the first model to have an inner case made of soft iron, to shield the movement from magnetic fields. As you may know, magnetism may interfere with the reliability of the timekeeping properties of a watch.
Taking inspiration from this technical and reliable centre seconds movement, IWC developed the Cal. 852 (no-date) and 8521 (date) in 1953.
Of course all of this was an ingenious marketing strategy. Hailing the technological age with a watch incorporating new technical innovations made for scientists . IWC was branding the watch as “the super time-piece of modern times”.

To me it was probably the sharp dauphine hands and a simple but timeless dial that triggered my affection for the watch at first. Researching the ref. 666 made the connection stronger as I can really appreciate a sober looking watch with technical innovations. It is also a watch that connect a very interesting period of our history to watchmaking and design.

I never got my ref. 666 back then. What I did get for my collection was the then new ref. 3233.

Ref. 3233

IWC Ingenieur 3570 866 3233 666

In 2008 IWC celebrated its 150th anniversary by releasing a Vintage Collection. This collection was really a contemporary reinterpretation of several classic watch models and of course the Ingenieur was one of them. The 3233 kept the dauphine hands and the sober face of the first generation ref.666. Also the case design was taken from the ref. 666.
On the inside IWC put their new in-house Cal. 80111. Here they further developed the values of the early Ingenieur watches with a new shock-absorbing mechanism. Also pressure resistant to 12 bar.
On the 80111 IWC sadly omitted the anti-magnetic soft iron inner case. This feature was kept for other Ingenieur models with the Cal. 80110. What those watches did not have that the ref. 3233 do, is a sapphire glas back where the beauty of the movement can be seen. This would not have been possible with the soft iron inner case. So I guess it was OK.
The only real downside of the ref. 3233 is the size. It is 42 mm and it is thick. Then again, back in 2008 what watch wasn’t?

Ref 866

IWC Ingenieur 3570 866 3233 666

Above you can see the ref 866. I am not going to say much about this one other than it was produced in a couple of series from 1967 to 1976 with a new movement, the cal. 854x. The one on the picture I borrowed from a fellow collector. It probably have newer hands, but according to catalogues they are correct.

Ref. 3570

IWC Ingenieur 3570 866 3233 666
At SIHH 2017 IWC decided to release the ref.3570. Again a new interpretation of the classic IWC Ingenieur. Although IWC claims this model resembles the Ingenieurs of the 1950s, it looks more like the 1970s ref.866 was the inspiration for the design.
The movement on the inside is a Selitta SW 300 built to IWC standards and then modified by the manufacture. This is a robust and reliable movement. The case back is certainly closed, but there is no mentioning of the anti-magnetic properties anywhere. Lacking this feature is no deal braker to me. I mean – who stays in strong magnetic fields these days. What I do find disappointing is that they chose to replace the classic INGENIEUR on the dial with AUTOMATIC.
The good thing about this watch is that the Ingenieur models have gone back to a classic look in a sleek case. Where the ref 3233 was a bit thick and heavy the ref 3570 is thinner and lighter. All in all this watch is a good move by IWC. I love the classic Ingenieur models, and I love the fact that they have gone back to their roots in the whole line of Ingenieur models.

If you want to investigate your own IWC Ingenieur or if you are looking to get one, there is only two online sources of information that I trust – one being MOEB – and the other one being Frizzelweb.

Read more of our articles about IWC Ingenieurs here

I spend a lot of time researching stuff online. So much time that my wife at some point told me to get a life on my own, or cut back. So now a part of my daily routine is to go through auction catalogues and online auctions during my lunch break.
Sometimes when I feel I have a good grasp on what is on the market I just browse random online auctions.

Usually I find nothing interesting. But sometimes I find that one special piece. That piece that doesn’t really fit the collection but that ties it together in a way. Together with the history. This will be one of those stories.

The Dutch online auction site Catawiki is infamous for fakes, reproductions, frankens and overpriced watches. Their auctioneers really have no clue or control, and it is a sellers market. After a couple of incidents with them I even wonder if their auctioneers are real people. Consider yourself warned.

However it was on Catawiki that I struck gold. The nick psmolders was selling a collection of seemingly original NASA pictures. After some research, facebook stalking and visits to space flight forums, I found Piet Smolders. He is a respected international author and journalist in his field. He is also famous amongst space flight collectors for having one of the largest collections of original NASA pictures.

His entire collection of pictures was out on Catawiki but there was only one that I wanted. This picture tie together watch collecting, space travel and cartoons. Odd but true. This image is essential to the connection between Omega Speedmaster and NASA. Now I just had to fight off the NASA collectors and the Snoopy collectors.

Omega Speedmaster and NASA

The shared history between Omega Speedmaster and NASAs spaceflight programme is well documented, but still speculated on. Officially NASA was looking for extremely reliable timepieces and as a government agency they had to obtain a so-called Request for Proposal from the different manufactures. In 1964 they asked 10 manufactures, and only four responded. That was Omega, Rolex, Longines and Hamilton. Hamilton responded with a pocket watch (God only knows). So three watches remained in the competition; The Omega Speedmaster ST105.003, Rolex Cosmograph ref 6238 and Longines Wittnauer.

In this video Jim Ragan, the test engineer of the Speedmaster watches with NASA, tells the tale in his own words.

The always eminent Fratello Watches also wrote up the story in detail here.

NASA and Snoopy

Back in 1968 Snoopy was a popular character in the daily newspaper comic strips. In these strips he could often be seen flying his make believe airplane. Sitting on top of his doghouse with his Flying Ace hat and scarf.
NASA approached cartoonist Charles Schulz for permission to use Snoopy as their safety mascot after an accident during the early days of the Apollo program.
Schulz agreed and in one of the first sketches Schulz published of Snoopy he was daydreaming about space in his fishbowl helmet. It was really a perfect match.

That same year NASA established the “Silver Snoopy Award”. The Snoopy icon was turned into a silver lapel pin and awarded to astronauts “for outstanding efforts that contribute to the success of human space flight missions“. 

Now that Silver Snoopy was also brought into the Omega Speedmaster in 2015. Read my review of that watch here.

Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Awards

Apollo 10

On the 18th of May 1969, Apollo 10 astronauts Thomas Stafford, Gene Cernan and John Young travelled from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida all the way to the moon. All aspects of an actual crewed lunar landing was to take place. Except for the landing of course. They were going to separate a landing module from the command module and orbit the moon for eight hours. They were also going in close to the moon’s surface to search for a landing site for the next Apollo 11 lunar landing.

The crew selected Snoopy as their mission mascot. Charlie Brown was selected as the name for their command module and Snoopy for their landing module.

Now the picture shows Apollo 10 commander Thomas Stafford pat the nose on their Snoopy mascot. On his left wrist you can clearly see the Omega Speedmaster he wore on the mission. Jayme Flowers is the woman in the picture holding the mascot as the crew walks along the hallway to the waiting transfer bus.

Their mission is described in detail here and even more detail here.

How Snoopy ended up on the dial and back on the Omega Speedmaster you can read here.

Omega Speedmaster NASA Apollo 10 Snoopy Award

Collecting odd stuff

You see why I needed to have these pictures?

Collecting sure is fun.This picture may not be for every watch collector out there, but I like these odd objects. And I love getting my hands on rare and original objects that is directly or indirectly connected to the history of watches. I know my man cave will be looking good with this one framed up and ready to tell the story of my Omega Speedmaster.

Omega Speedmaster NASA Apollo 10 Snoopy Award

And how to build your collection. You can learn the secrets of collecting vintage watches.

Collecting vintage watches is really about emotion. Not all true of course. It is also about money.
I tend to fall in love with objects that I just “need” to own, but as all collectors know, you buy what you can. If I had the money I would definitely get myself a couple of vintage Ferraris. But I don’t.
Life brings heartache, and so does collecting sometimes. You cannot win them all. In that manner collecting truly mimics life. There will be hard times and there will be good times.
And sometimes a little bit of each. As when I was forced to sell a beloved vintage Rolex because of an unexpected bill, and when I had the opportunity to buy that vintage Rolex back after two years.
Still it is the good times that I remember best. As when I found a rare photograph strongly connected to my passion for watches.

Sometimes I find bargains. You know, good watches that are priced ridiculously low. But then again when emotion is involved and I really really want that watch bad. I overpay.
And that is what separates collecting from investing or trading. You pay what you have to, to get that object into your collection. And if you have taste and some knowledge it will always turn out to be a good investment over time. As I tell my wife, the other collectors are crazier than me. There are always someone willing to pay up for a good object.

collecting vintage watches rolex 5513 submariner precomex

Know when to turn your collection around

Someone smarter than me once wrote that “if you are a beginner in collecting vintage watches you have to build your watch collection on what you like, according to your taste and wallet”. I always thought that was a cliché. But suddenly I realised that it’s not. If collecting is truly about emotion, then you need to feel that collection of yours.
So at one point, not so long ago, I terminated my entire collection of watches. I sold out everything. I realised that I had bought watches that other collectors liked, but that I did not really enjoy myself. Of course they were collectable and nice watches. It was a strong and diverse collection and I got a lot of compliments. But the watches did not satisfy me.

This smart guy also wrote that collectors with the very best watches have a focus. One of the nicest collections I have seen is all about vintage diving watches. I also know collectors that only buy Patek Philippe or Omega Speedmasters. It is just amazing how many Speedmasters one man can own.

collecting vintage watches rolex 5513 submariner precomex

Collecting Vintage Watches

My own collection is slowly growing again. And this time with a clear vision. My collecting philosophy is now very simple. Buy what I like, know what I buy, and why. And most importantly, go slow.

In practical life that translates to collecting vintage watches that are as original as possible and buying new watches that speak to me. I like a mixed vintage and new collection as they have different qualities. I try to keep the size down to 42 mm and below, preferably 38-40 mm. And I never buy watches to keep them in the safe. I like to wear my watches for periods of time. A week or two on, and then I move on to the next watch in my collection for a period of time.

I want to start collecting chronographs sometime. I just love a nice chronograph. The engineering of that movement, the look of the dial, the feel of the pushers. Everything with chronographs speak to me as a watch guy.
Unfortunately they are expensive, so at the moment I will buy them only if I come past a good specimen at the right price, but I do not rush it.

When deciding where to go with your own collection I would say you should keep in mind why you would collect. There are plenty of reasons why people collect. Most are emotional, and most of us have the collecting genom. When you figure out the why, you need to figure out the what. What to collect is essential to building a nice and solid collection.
Then you should start doing your research.

Please leave a reply below on why you collect if you already know. It would be a great pleasure to read all the different reasons.

collecting vintage watches rolex 1675 gmt master

Research

Researching and collecting vintage watches are now turning out to be both simpler than ever and more confusing than ever. Online resources have a lot of good information but be ware of forums and know-it-alls who claim to be watch gods.
Personally I have gone back to books, backed by online information. Check our collection of books for sale in the shop.

When buying vintage watches the devil is in the details. And I have two very nice examples to show you. One absolutely original vintage Rolex, and one seemingly original that only a good amount of research will expose. Can you spot the one?

I will tell you about my research for these.
What you see first is a reference 5513 Rolex Submariner from 1977, and the second one is a reference 1675 GMT Master from 1968. Both with correct serial numbers, case back stamps and movements. They both have beautiful matching patina on hands and dial.

 

collecting vintage watches rolex 5513 submariner precomex

collecting vintage watches rolex 1675 gmt master

Most would stop here

Let’s go back to the dials and hands, and it is here you find the crux that separates the two watches.
The 1977 ref 5513 with serial in the 5.0 mil, as on this one, a Mk1 Maxi Dial or Pre Comex dial is correct. The watch you see above has the very rare Pre Comex dial.

A 1968 GMT Master ref 1675 would have Mk1 dial, a “Long E” dial.

According to trustworthy sources Rolex started to produce GMT Master in mid 1968 that had a new larger GMT hand.
So suddenly it is not known whether this particular watch would have had the new handset or the old one.
There is one more detail that says it might have had a small GMT hand back in 1968.

The dial

Researching the GMT Master is difficult. The dial variations are many and the price range on the watch is much dictated by the dial and the matching hands. You see, collectors find the dial to bee key when collecting vintage watches in general, but when collecting Rolex the dial is essential.

A 1968 would have had a Mk1 dial. This 1675 watch does not have a Mk1 dial, and since the patination matches, this is an indication of a replacement of both hands and dial at one time.
Some sources say that it was popular amongst early GMT Master owners to upgrade their old watch to a new look with the large GMT hand.
After extensive research into dial variations I found a match for the dial. It is an early tritium replacement dial, or service dial if you will.

My guess is that the original owner of this watch changed both watch and hands back in the early 1970s to get the new and modern look to his older watch.

I still would buy both watches. The 1675 would be better with the original dial, but this one with the matching patina is still a great buy.
Boxes and papers is rare to find on these old watches, and brings the price up to astronomical figures. You got to love it!

Please download my checklist for buying and collecting vintage watches so that you can also get your dream watch without getting screwed.