Vintage Watch Fanatic


We are all crazy about vintage watches here......

With our website I wanted to reserve a place to show and talk about vintage watch styles or models that I thought were cool and interesting. My motivation for this is that I have never quite found a watch blog that I liked, or would recommend to other collectors. Most watch blogs to me fall into one of 2 categories, they either: over analyze/scrutinize the watch until it basically turns into an extension of the blogger's own OCD (which takes all of the fun out of collecting), OR they use the blog as a form of blind brand worship and just drone on and on about how wonderful a particular manufacturer is and how the blogger believes the company practically invented the wheel. I love vintage watches (as much or more than anyone I have ever met) but although many of the companies are still around in one form or another, very few if any of them behave in a manner currently that deserves worship. When I look at many vintage watches I can see: the quality that the manufacturer tried to put into the development and execution of the piece, that with proper maintenance and care it is made well enough to be passed onto future generations and enjoyed, and how their styling or function can almost be a snapshot/reflection of the time period it was made in. Unfortunately, most watch companies of today are not those of old. Today they are more about greed, exclusion, over-marketing, and seeing what they can get away with in regards to where and how well their products are actually made. That is why vintage watches still hold the magic for me; finding, restoring, wearing and enjoying a unique collectible is something I cannot get enough of.

I will try to feature a new vintage watch on this page every few weeks. Many of them will be from my own collection, but some may belong to friends or are watches that have recently been worked on in our shop. Hopefully you will see a style/model that you have either not seen before or possibly one you had not considered including in your collection, and develop a new area of interest in the hobby. You can never own too many vintage watches, so ideas on what you might want to add to your collection next is always a good thing :)


OWNER: Ultra-Vintage
SIZE: 40mm X 43mm
CASE: All stainless steel, opens through the front
LUG SIZE: 19mm
MOVEMENT: 17 Jewel Automatic, 11 1/2 Ligne Caliber VH236 (ETA 2772 Based), 21600 BPH, Wyler's patented Incaflex Balance, Black Date Wheel
CRYSTAL: Thick domed acrylic
BAND: Heavy black leather, rivets at the lugs with contrasting orange stitch
FEATURES: Turn-able internal bezel (controlled by crown at 2 o'clock position)
This watch gets to be the first one on this new page because it is the latest addition to my collection. I acquired this in a watchmaker's estate that we purchased more than 3 years ago. It came with the original box and operating instructions, but was missing the crown and "star gear" for the internal bezel at the 2 o'clock position. The operating instructions say specifically "never attempt to remove the crown at 2 o'clock", but someone obviously could not read. So this one languished in a drawer here for 3 years until luck would have it that someone on Ebay listed 2 NOS original crowns for this model including their star gear. I bought one within a couple hours of them being listed (I should have bought the other), and the second one was gone a few hours after that. So, with the needed part in hand I gave this one a full service and got it ready for its debut.
The case is one solid piece, and the movement comes out through the front. The movement is held into the case by screw-down tabs, the crown at 4 o'clock has a 2 piece stem, and the internal bezel is held within a machined depression in the case by a retaining spring on its side. The crystal is a thick domed acrylic (GS still makes a reproduction of it), and fits the case in a style similar to the Rolex oyster. The crystal fits tightly over a lip on the case and then has a polished bezel that presses over it to tightly seal it against that lip to keep out moisture. Add the heavy thick gasketed crowns and this one should have been reasonably waterproof when new. At roughly 40mm square the case is large enough, but not too large and cumbersome. The watch is not overly thick either, so it is comfortable to wear. I have it on a thicker leather band and it sits perfectly on the wrist.

The movement is based on the ETA 2772, associated with the movements that were a dive watch staple of the 60's and 70's (starting with the 2451 and 2472 at 18000 BPH and then on into the 2700 series like this one that is 21600 BPH). So if you are familiar with the series of movements, this one is just what you would expect once serviced: smooth manual winding, quiet and efficient rotor, and accurate time keeping. The Incaflex balance gives it a little extra shock protection (and the curved arms look cool as the balance is turning). The movement is nicely finished, which is not always the case in many of the dive watches by other makers at the time. I have seen quite a few of these ETA movements in dive watches from the 60s and 70s that have mostly blank rough plates and are signed "Swiss" at best.

The dial is what really draws me to this watch. It has contrasting areas of matte and reflective, and the black and orange really sets it off. The orange second hand is a nice touch, and the orange bezel is still in decent shape on mine, showing only slight wear, as I have seen more than a few of these that the bezel looks horrible. They used a different type of paint on the bezel than the dial and it has a tendency to flake or fade if it has contact with too much sun or moisture.

From what I have seen there were at least 4 variations of the Dynawind Diver 660: 1- black and orange dial with orange internal bezel like mine, 2- blue and silver dial with a blue internal bezel and arrow shaped minute hand, 3- blue dial (signed Heavy-Duty) with red-tipped markers, red lined hands and a blue internal bezel, 4- black dial with 24hr track in red and arrow shaped hour hand with a black bezel. Most people call these Super Compressors but I do not see any evidence that the case was made by EPSA. The way the internal bezel fits the case is also unlike any Super Compressor I have worked on. However, I do like the way that these go together. The design appears sound, and the internal bezel operates very smoothly.

Overall, anyone into dive watches should have one of these in their collection. Great styling, quality movement (from when ETA actually cared about quality), and comfortable to wear. I believe these are relatively uncommon as I do not see them available for sale that often. It seems the variation I see most frequently is the black dial with black internal bezel, but I am not sure which styles are more rare. Looking around the net today I have seen asking prices of $1200-$1800, which I think is a bit too much. For a really nice example with the box and certificate like this one, truly serviced and ready to wear, somewhere in the neighborhood of several hundred dollars would be a fair price. However, this one will not be going anywhere anytime soon........

1950's Movado Solid 14K Gold Bumper Automatic

OWNER: Ultra-Vintage
SIZE: 33mm X 42mm
CASE: Solid 14K Yellow Gold 2-piece case
LUG SIZE: 18mm
MOVEMENT: 17 Jewel Bumper Automatic, 11 3/4 Ligne Movado Caliber 115, 18,000 BPH, Incabloc balance, 40 Hr Power Reserve
CRYSTAL: Domed Glass
BAND: Genuine Alligator in "Khaki" color with Movado gold-filled buckle
FEATURES: Sharp styling, quality movement, captivating dial
If I had to choose one word to describe this Movado it would be: Classic. When I think about a dress watch to wear with a nice suit to an important meeting or formal social occasion, I picture a watch like this. Everything about it says sophistication; the solid 14k gold case with bold lines, the attractive dial with solid gold markers, and the genuine alligator band with amazing hide patterns. These are all things that most dress watches try to achieve, but few seem to actually accomplish.
This particular example has seen very little wrist time in its nearly 60 years. The case was in excellent condition with very few light marks, and the bevels are still strongly present on all of the heavy lugs. The movement was free of any dust or dirt even prior to servicing, and the screw heads were all as new. I would guess that it spent most of its life in a drawer or safe, so I was lucky to find it in this condition as the few other examples I have seen of similar models had redone dials and over-polished cases. The fact that it still had its original dustproof gold crown was nice as well, as you will occasionally still see these on vintage Movados from the era but I have never found any of these crowns by themselves that I could use for replacement.
I am quite fond of vintage bumper automatics and the Movado Caliber 115 is one of my favorites. I believe the 115 came in either 15 Jewel, 17 Jewel, or 19 Jewel versions, but I have mostly encountered the 17 Jewel variation. Each time I have serviced this caliber I usually see something that makes me appreciate the care that was taken in its manufacture and how nicely the movement is finished. The plates are decorated, the barrel is decorated, the bumper automatic assembly is super smooth in both function and winding, and it is an accurate timekeeper. This came from a time when Movado cared about what they put their name on......don't even ask me to comment about what they put their name on these days. In the early 1950s when Movado developed this caliber it was the thinnest automatic available at the time. Yet another reason it is perfect for a dress watch like this one.
The dial on this watch is truly a thing of beauty, successfully incorporating most of the style elements of the time. The minute marks are gold embossed dots, the hour track has both patterned rings within its surface and applied solid gold markers, the subseconds is oversized, and the large gold dauphine-pitched hands make it all easy to read. Lucky for me, the dial on this example is nearly flawless. At 33mm wide without the crown this watch may seem to be just about average size, however, the large oversized lugs make it look much bigger on the wrist. The case lines are nearly perfect. It has a captivating look but still remains elegant and refined. As the pictures show it has a personal engraving on the back from 1956, which is about right in terms of its manufacture.
I know that many collectors practically throw a tantrum over a watch having any type of personal markings. I honestly believe that is something they really need to rethink and lighten up on. You cannot intentionally seek out a VINTAGE/ANTIQUE item (watch, jewelry, furniture etc.) and then expect it to have no history. That is what these items are, history, which is one of the major reasons they are so interesting. Wondering about things like: Who originally bought this, for what reason, where has it been since that time, and how did it make that journey over time to end up with me? Those are some of the things that keep me going in this hobby, that keep me searching for more pieces to add to my collection. I love when a watch has a nicely done engraving or really unique presentation on the back, it adds to their mystique. Some of these vintage watches have amazing inscriptions executed by hand that you simply could not have done nowadays (which is wrong, it is an art form that greatly deserves to be preserved and passed down), and to reject a watch due to it having that on it is senseless. Do not misunderstand me, scribbling on a watch with a knife or cheap engraving pen is a different story (and should be considered a crime), but a tasteful presentation or the original owners initials done in a fancy script is cool. Period.
To truly get the overall look you want with a particular watch, the band you put on it is extremely important. All of the adjectives that you would use to describe the watch itself need to be reflected in the look and feel of the band as well. For that reason I paired this one with a Genuine Alligator band from SHANT PETER (their products can be found at http://www.ebay.com/usr/cacio12) that matches it perfectly. They have a large selection of colors and the hides they use look amazing, this particular color being "Khaki" (a light root-beer brown, with a hint of green).
Every collector needs a watch like this in their collection. It does not matter if you are mainly interested in other types of watches, every collection should have at least one sharp dress watch and this one more than fits the bill. Just like many of the other watches I will feature on this page, the asking prices for this model, or other similar watches from Movado, are quite varied. I have seen prices between $700 and $1500, but somewhere close to the low end of that range for an excellent condition serviced example like this one is a great buy in my opinion. If this were an identical watch from Patek collectors would be trampling over each other to pay several thousand for it. What would $800 buy you from Movado nowadays??? Ok, I said I would avoid going down that road..........but how many more decades can one company run a single design into the ground, especially since its whole theme is a plain black dial with a raised circle at 12.......ok, sorry again, forget I said that. I foresee this one staying in my collection for quite a while. As the preceding paragraphs would indicate, I quite like it, and who knows I might have an important business meeting coming up that would call for such an elegant timepiece!

1960's Technos Sky Diver Automatic

OWNER: Ultra-Vintage
SIZE: 36mm X 48mm
CASE: Solid Stainless Steel 2-piece case, Turnable bezel (non-click)
LUG SIZE: 20mm
MOVEMENT: 17 Jewel Automatic, 11 1/2 Ligne ETA Caliber 2472 finished for Technos, 18,000 BPH, Incabloc balance, Red numbered date wheel, 42 Hr Power Reserve
CRYSTAL: Thick heavy domed acrylic
BAND: Dassari "Rust" Rally-Style strap
FEATURES: Sturdy case for 500M depth capability, Unique Crown/Tube, Reliable/Quality movement, Distinctive dial
Although not a widely recognized brand name to many, Technos made several really cool sport/dive watches in the 1960's and 70's. Among their most sought after are those they made under the model name "Sky Diver". Why they would use "Sky Diver" when these were meant more for water than the clouds above I do not know, but the name is original if nothing else. Under this moniker they also made at least 2 Super Compressors (one with a World-Time inner bezel ring), and a 1000M model similar to the Certina DS-2. This watch is the very first Sky Diver model, freshly serviced/restored and the newest addition to my collection.
At first glance this watch may have what is thought of as "typical" dive watch styling. Steel case, black dial, black turnable bezel......all things common to watches of this type from the 1960's and 70's, and even those of today. However, once you look closer there are some subtle differences that really make this one stand out in my mind. The first is the extended lugs on the all stainless steel case. A diameter of 36mm (not including the crown) is a common size for a dive watch, but at that width most will only measure 42mm-44mm lug to lug. The 48mm case length of the Sky Diver helps it to appear much larger on the wrist. The 6.70mm crown with tall profile indicates that this watch was built for serious use, much more than the 20ATM (660ft) standard at the time. The caseback has a nice center relief with the Technos Anchor logo, and is just marked "Waterproof" instead of a specific depth rating. The bezel on this watch is all one-piece, i.e. no insert. So although this bezel shows a few bumps and bruises from age and use, it is still very nice and better than most of the examples I have seen.
As my pictures show, this is not the standard type of crown for a 1960's dive watch. A Zodiac Super Seawolf and many others from the era have a one-piece crown with an internal spring and gaskets, which screws down onto a tube that is mounted into the case. This watch has a hollow crown with no internal components, which attaches to a 2-piece stem that has an intermediary spring, and it screws down onto a case tube with a rubber gasket washer within its base. The stem configuration may remind you of those used in vintage Seiko dive watches, but that is where the similarities end. I am lucky to have the original (and functional) crown and tube on this one, as I have never seen these parts available. I have been able to repair crown and tube damage on these in the past, but it required replacing both the crown and tube with something more typically found on dive watches of the era.
The movement in this example is based on the ETA 2472, and has attractively finished bridges and a signed rotor. They also offered 30 Jewel versions of this watch with the ETA 2472 (many of the extra jewels were added within the reverser wheels) and the AS 1700. This watch has all of the characteristics you would expect with this caliber (after having been serviced of course): smooth hand winding, quiet rotor operation, and accurate timekeeping. As I have discussed before, the ETA 2472 was one of the most prevalent movements used in dive watches at the time (including many EPSA Super Compressors) and is a great overall caliber. I wish the ETA movements of today were more like this series, but unfortunately they are not. "Progress" is not always a good thing......
I am a big fan of the early Sky Diver dials. Their style is not without similarity to other Swiss offerings at the time (as is the case with nearly every Swiss brand during this period and beyond), as it shares a style similar to the Enicar Sherpa Dive watches to name one. The large markers with both a luminous section and that of a contrasting color are easy to read and I am sure glowed quite brightly when this watch was new. I really liked the look of the aged luminous and the patina of this example, so I tried my best to maintain that appearance. There was only one small pinhole in the minute hand that appeared to be from a former repair person's error. The arrow-shaped seconds hand is a nice touch as well, as it even has a slim luminous strip in the center that runs it's length. Those familiar with this model will notice that I did not use an original style crystal in its restoration. These came new with a square date magnifier inside the crystal, but I am not a fan of the date window breaking up the overall look of a dive watch dial, so I did not want a crystal that drew further attention to that feature. Just a personal preference as I believe that reproductions of the original crystal is still available for those that would want them.
I have already discussed that they used two different movements in this model of Sky Diver, and it is interesting that they also used at least 3 dial variations as well. I have seen these with a dials marked: Sky Diver, Sky Diver 30 Jewels, and Sky Diver 500M. I am unsure if the difference in markings was dependent on the year of manufacture, or for some other reason. Beyond the movement used, there were no other differences in these watches from the examples I have seen in person. The dials marked 500M seem to be the least common in my experience, but in am unsure of their actual scarcity in comparison to the other 2 styles.
As a whole, there were not very many early Swiss 500M dive watches. A TON of 200M watches, a few 1000M models, but not very many with the 500M designation. A watch like this deserves to be in your collection for that reason alone, but then once you add its unique styling and quality features you begin to see why I have one of these in mine. Some of the other early 500M watches, such as those from Aquastar and Certina, are in a very different price bracket than these early Sky Divers. I think a serviced/restored example like I have pictured should be worth between $500 and $700, which puts it at a fraction of the cost of the other watches I just mentioned. Dive watches are truly some of the most versatile watches to wear as well; they look great with a suit (James Bond showed us the way) or also with casual attire (as long as "casual" to you doesn't mean wearing your pajamas to the grocery store at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, no one needs to see that).

1940's Bulova Chronograph

OWNER: Ultra-Vintage
SIZE: 32mm X 38mm
CASE: Solid Stainless Steel 3-piece case
LUG SIZE: 18mm
MOVEMENT: 17 Jewel, 13 Ligne, Bulova 13AK, Valjoux 23 Based, 18,000 BPH, 48 Hr Power Reserve
CRYSTAL: Thick heavy domed vintage glass
BAND: Dassari "Brown" Bund Strap, Re-stitched
FEATURES: Steel case when many chronographs were still using chromed cases, luminous hands and dial, excellent quality movement (Valjoux 23 base)
Bulova is a name that everyone is familiar with. They blanketed the U.S. with watches and parts during the mid 1900's, remaining a staple up until the quartz boom wiped away the remains of the original company (they are now owned by Citizen). In my region of the country, if someone says they found an old watch that they want to sell there is probably a 75% chance it is a Bulova. Most that are found and offered for sale are not going to be as cool as this one though unfortunately, so I was happy to pick this one up (even if it did have to languish in a drawer here for a few years for me to have time to restore it). After a few parts and fresh service this one is ready to go.
One of the first things that many people will notice about this watch is its size. It is only 32mm wide, not including the crown. For today's standards that is very small considering current buyers prefer watches that are the size of manhole covers. I have an 8 1/2" wrist, yet still do not feel the need to wear a watch that could double as a coffee table, but I may be the odd man out in that regard. It is a big plus that this one has an all stainless steel case, where many of the manufacturers were still using chromed cases at the time this was made. This model has: a 3-piece case, the earlier non-waterproof style square pushers, and a snap back. For those that are not vintage watch savvy, these features all add up to "not moisture friendly". That does not mean it is an inferior design, but that caution must be used when wearing it. When I got this one the pushers looked like Swiss Cheese (a common issue) so I fitted NOS correct replacements to compliment the rest of the case condition. The case is in amazing shape considering its age, which is uncommon because these truly got used. In the 1940s chronographs were not generally bought as novelties or to be family heirlooms, you used them for your occupation, sport, or hobby. I have also heard stories of this model being purchased by individuals to be used while in service of the United States military during WWII, since the U.S. did not have a designated wrist chronograph like some of the other countries involved in the conflict.
One of the best features of this model is the movement. It is the Bulova Caliber 13AK, which is based on the Valjoux 23. Anyone familiar with the 23 knows that it is accurate, precise, and durable. This one is too early for the Incabloc balance system, which had already been invented but was not yet a standard for this movement. Actually, this watch would have been made just a couple of years after the Caliber 23 was converted from a single pusher to a dual pusher (which started in 1938). I tried to pin down the exact year of manufacture for my example, which I think is 1942, but Bulova production numbers for this time period are confusing and unclear unlike their alphabet code that started in 1950.
I love the appearance of the dial on this watch. The oversized registers and blued hands really compliment the aged luminous. As previously mentioned, these watches were designed with no moisture resistance whatsoever and they got used ALOT. This means that it can be difficult to find one without moisture damage (to either the movement or dial) that still has a reasonably nice original dial. Some collectors may cry and whine because the dial is not pristine, but I actually think this dial has more character and is more attractive than its original state (plain boring white). Dial patina on vintage watches can mean many things, but some things that make it acceptable or favorable to me are: It is an even patina (a uniform look across the entire dial), all of the writing is visible, and that it has a pleasant appearance (no huge black spots or overly darkened areas, peeling finishes or other damage that appears unattractive).
In restoring this one I fitted it with a vintage hi-dome thick "wavy glass" crystal because that is the style that I prefer, but it would have originally had a lower profile plastic crystal. For the band I chose a Dassari "Legend" Bund-style distressed leather strap. As you can see in the pics it originally was only available in color matched stitching that did not look right to me at all. I got my grandmother to re-stitch it for me by hand. She is 80 years old and has been doing sewing and alterations for customers for more than 60 years (*Love you Grandma June*). This was the first leather watch band that she had ever re-stitched, but I think it came out perfect and is exactly the look I wanted for the watch.
Although not extremely common in comparison to the other Bulova models of the time period, these are around. At any given time you can find several available for sale online, usually in greatly varying states of condition. Most will have refinished dials, and more often than not the refinishes are quite crude and unattractive. The pricing often ranges between $550 and $1100 for running models, depending on their originality and overall condition. I have also seen pictures of this model in solid 14k gold, but have not seen one actually sell to determine what a possible value of one might be. When buying one of these chronographs be wary of possible mechanical issues. If movement parts are needed the difficulty of the repair and the $ invested can escalate quite quickly considering that it shares components with both the Valjoux 23 & 72.
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