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

 

Jaeger-LeCoultre recently launched a new Master Memovox Boutique Edition. When I have an opportunity to fondle a totally new watch, then I take it. This particular model is well known to every watch collector out there as the Memovox have been a cult watch since its first appearance in the 1950s.

Known as the iconic alarm clock, the Memovox have followed Jaeger-LeCoultre in many of their model ranges from the 1950s and up until today. The alarm function has been a continuous element showing up in both dress watches and more sporty watches.  Just imagine an underwater alarm clock for diving, or the Memovox Parking, which saves you from getting parking tickets by reminding you when your parking meter time is up.

Originally featuring a double crown and a mobile disc with the desired alarm time shown by a triangular indicator, the Memovox watch made its mark once launched. Its legendary movement, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 815, was the first automatic movement to boast an alarm function signed by the Grande Maison and has inspired many others since its introduction in 1956.

Memovox Snowdrop

Now celebrating the 60th anniversary of its automatic movement the Boutique Edition Memovox is a very contemporary interpretation of an 1970s Memovox Snowdrop design. A vintage looking blue-tinted dial is balanced out by the contemporary look of its finishes and case. And the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956 that drives the Master Memovox Boutique Edition is a direct descendent of the original.

Well, how does it really feel?

Hands-On:

First impression is a surprisingly good looking dial. I had seen this watch in pictures and honestly I thought nothing much of it. A boring dial inside a boring case. I was wrong.

The dial is really interesting. It actually feels like there are three dials in one watch. The centre disc has a magnificent deep blue sunburst finish, followed by a matt dark blue hour index and a lighter blue minute index on the outer edge. I am baffled by how the dial just works. Both understated and interesting at the same time. I could spend hours playing with the sunburst centre disc and a lightbulb.

You see how simple joys can keep a monkey occupied.

Master Memovox Boutique Edition

There are two crowns on this watch. The bottom crown is used for winding, as well as setting the time. Setting the alarm function is simple: shift the top crown into neutral position. Then, in position 2, turn this crown in anti-clockwise direction until the desired ring time. In doing so, the mobile disc with its little “retro-style” and famous Memovox indicator triangle turns around the dial to the alarm time.

I don’t know how they do it, but the alarm have a very pure sound.

I have a video on instagram you should see. Remember Volume On.

The new Memovox Boutique Edition has kept all the characteristics of the Memovox Snowdrop. And I kinda like the “retro-style” look and feel. I am glad Jaeger-LeCoultre decided to have a more contemporary design on the stainless steel case.

Master Memovox Boutique Edition

A  deep blue braided cotton was selected by for the strap and it plays nice with the light blue stitching. Further the calfskin lining ensures a nice and comfortable wearing strap.

All in all this new watch is an unexpected surprise from the Jaeger-LeCoultre Maison. And it is priced very comfortably. Now you just need to get your hands on one. Only 500 pcs made and only for sale in one of the 90 or so Jaeger-LeCoultre Boutiques worldwide.

Master Memovox Boutique Edition

 

Memovox Boutique Edition

Reference:

Q141848J

Movement:

Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956

Automatic mechanical movement

Produced, assembled, and decorated by hand

28,800 vibrations per hour

45-hour power-reserve

268 parts • 23 jewels

7.45 mm in height

Functions:

Hours, minutes, second

Date

Alarm

Case:

Stainless steel, polished finish

40 mm in diameter • 14 mm in height

Solid case-back

Water-resistance: 5 bar

Dial:

Inner dial blue sunburst

Outer dial Opaline blue

Hands:

Baton, polished, Super-Luminova

Strap:

Calfskin in Trieste black, blue topstitching

Limitation:

500 watches exclusive to Jaeger-LeCoultre Boutiques

 

Oslo is a beautiful city. All year round. Whether you are a resident or just happen to visit Oslo from out of town you should go to the cocktail bar with the greatest view of the city – Summit Bar.

From here you get to see the Oslo fjord and the whole city. And enjoy a great cocktail as well. The locals visit the lounge bar for a romantic date or business meeting and the ambience is relaxed.

A couple of weeks back I visited the bar that was famous back in the 80’s as Oslos premium skybar. I had shied this bar for years but now rumors were going that the bar had been heavily refurbished and had modernised every square centimeter. So finally I went.

Summit Oslo

Summit Oslo

You cannot avoid the first impression of the spectacular view. It hits you straight in the face when you exit the escalator on the 21st floor of the Radisson Blu Scandinavia. Unfolding before your eyes, the view of the city and the fjord is magnificent. Once inside the bar you will see the lounges designed by the respected architects at Snøhetta.

Snøhetta have created an intimate yet open atmosphere through contrasting the view with the interior. Interior design choices evidently tie the fjord in the front to the mountains in the back. The colour palette and use of materials is striking and consequently create a modern look and feel.

On a side note I do recommend a visit to the mens room. You better not be shy.

Summit Oslo

Bartenders are well educated and friendly. They make really, really good cocktails with a modern and Scandinavian twist. I like that they are exploring contemporary tastes and styles rather than going safe and boring.

Summit Bar is all in all a nice place for an after-shopping or pre-dinner cocktail. For now still undetected by most locals.

Find your way.

Summit Oslo

 

Aston Martin DBS V8 is perhaps most famous in the yellow suit on the 1971 TV show The Persuaders. Being a big fan of the show a Norwegian collector had to have this car. When he found a specimen in California he had to act fast to bring it home to Norway.

Building a vast collection of cars throughout the years he is still looking for the next one. There is as much joy in a Ford that there is in a Ferrari, he tells me. Satisfaction is achieved through the research and the hunt. His network all around the world looks for his next dream car. In his eyes Aston Martin is still the ultimate car manufacture. Their design language is refined and their skills as engine builders is unsurpassed.

A true enthusiast and collector in other words.

He was waiting on the docks back in 2007 when the ship arrived with his Aston Martin DBS V8. At the time it was winter in Norway and when they pulled the car off the ship there were two fat stripes of rust in its snowy trails. With a chassis made of steel and a body made from aluminum, the Aston Martin DBS is vulnerable to corrosion. The joint between these two metals are separated by gaskets on the DBS and those gaskets were decayed. The DBS had rusted in the humid California weather. Rotten with rust and the restoration had to begin.

In restoration all original parts were used if possible. Thankfully, Aston Martin keeps original drawings and parts specs, the owner tells me. He had several parts custom-made by Aston Martin. It is not cheap to restore a car like this, but totally worth it, he says. Now the car appears close to perfect.

Aston Martin DBS V8 was a popular car of its time. 40 cars were made for the American market with left-hand drive. About 400 were made in total with the V8 engine.
Aston Martin DBSAston Martin DBS-5

History

Aston Martin DBS V8 was a natural development from the DBS with the straight 6 engine, and they do look pretty similar. Aston Martin themselves claim that they intended to start production with the V8 from the beginning, but the DBS was presented initially with a smaller engine in 1967.

In 1969 Aston Martin introduced the V8 engine. With a capacity of 5340 cc and sparking 320 hp this car was the fastest 4 seater production car in the world at the time. Tadek Marek had designed the new V8 engine that would be the base of Aston Martin engines for the next 20 years.

You can easily spot the difference on the rims. The straight 6 have beautiful wire wheels while the V8 have light alloy wheels.

Aston Martin DBS V8 was the last model to have the David Brown name to it. David Brown bought the Aston Martin brand back in 1947 and he created the DB series. He then brought the Aston Martin brand into the luxury car segment. Financial troubles made sure both Aston Martin and Lagonda were sold off to new owners in 1972. David Brown is still honoured by the abbreviation DB when naming new models.

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin DBS

 

Aston Martin DBS-3

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin – heritage archives