Hamilton Pilots Chrono Military Issued / Royal Navy 1972, Val. 7733
This is a pilots chrono issued by the British Royal Navy in 1972. The caseback markings are 0552, signifying Royal Navy. If you find one marked marked 6BB, it means Royal Air Force issued, and 6645-99 if Royal Australian Navy issued. It features the classic 39-40mm asymmetric case with fixed bars, and robust manual wind Valjoux 7733 movement.
I’m no military watch expert, and if you wish to read up on these watches, there is no better place than a superb article on Worn and Wound.. here is an excerpt from the article..
“In the early 1970s, while the United States maintained and grew its military in response to the conflict in Southeast Asia and its cold war with the Soviet Union, the British government was in the process of reducing its armed forces in both size and cost. As a very small part of these austerity measures, the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) revised the Defense Standard (DEF-STAN) that prescribed the design characteristics of military pilots’ watches to allow for cheaper, commercially available movements to be used. This change allowed manufactures to begin using one of the classic workhorse chronograph movements of the 1970s: the Valjoux 7733. This movement and the unique case design of these watches combined to become THE British military pilot’s watch throughout the ‘70s and into the early ‘80s.”
Click here for the full article – it’s well worth a read..
Rolex Submariner 1680, Cal. 1575 COSC, Date with open numbers & flat 3.
1978 – 5.4mil Serial. (with Superdome crystal)
Normally I do a little write up on the history of a particular model, but this watch needs little introduction, and there is nothing I can add to the plethora of information out there. Here is a quote from VintageSubmariner.com..
“In 1965, Rolex introduced the caliber 1565, which was both C.O.S.C. certified and had a date display. In 1971, Rolex iterated the caliber to include hacking (meaning the seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled out for time setting). The 1565 caliber lead to a new model series, the 168X series. Reference 1680 was introduced in 1965 or 1966 and had the chronometer status and a date display. This also introduced the Cyclops date magnifier to the Submariner line.”
I bought my first Rolex a year or so back, a 16800 and I didn’t get on with it. I think it was because I had this huge expectation of something astonishing.. and it turned out to be ‘just a divers watch’. I was disappointed, so sold it on.
The itch didn’t go away, so I bought an ‘86 5513.. this I instantly liked. The acrylic non-cyclops crystal made such a difference, combined with no huge expectation. It grew on me quickly. Fast-forward 6 months and I sold it.. a combination of me trying to reduce the collection and the need for a new MacBook. C’est la vie.
Months later I regretted it, and started hunting a maxi dial 5513, but the 1665 Sea-Dweller caught my eye – the non-cyclops crystal with date greatly appealed. One problem, the price. I didn’t want to splash that much on a divers watch. During my hunt, I’d spotted a few 1680’s fitted with plain crystals, and that seemed like an ideal solution. I know the purists may grimace at such a thing, but the idea didn’t bother me – Rolex deemed the Sea Dweller OK to not have it, so why not!
I read an article recently on ‘ablogtowatch’ about the history of the Sub.. and one fact that really stood out was that the founder , Wildorf, wanted to produce a good quality watch that could be worn by many. This really struck a chord with me.. it wasn’t a super high end watch, but was designed and built as a good quality tool watch – average cost about 2 weeks pay. This makes me love my Sub even more.. it’s not a status symbol, glittery or conspicuous, it’s a tool watch. It’s tough, will do a job, and it carries a certain history with it. It’s the perfect size, weight and supremely comfortable. I have to admit to storing the folded link bracelet.. if I’m honest – it sucks, and I didn’t want to tear it apart to size it. So, I’ve fitted an aftermarket bracelet (gasp!). I’m still not sold on the cyclops, but I have to admit, whilst I wore it before getting the crystal changed, it really grew on me.. but with a superdome crystal fitted.. for me, it’s bang on the money.
Bulova Marine Star, Manual Valjoux 7731, 43mm. c1970’s/80s
You don’t see many of these kicking about, and they have an intriguing history. As far as I know, it wasn’t an issued military watch, but shares its design with the well known issued Zenith A. Cairelli Tipo CP2. I believe the cases are the same. I read that it’s possible that Zenith had problems with Cairelli, so sold off the cases they had. Although this is calculated guesswork and not proven (as far as I know).
The case is large, being just under 43mm, and features 22mm lugs, a 60 click uni-directional bezel and 50m water resistance.
The fully story of this watch is a bit of a mystery. I’ve tried doing some heavy research, but little comes to light. In fact, the best write-up I found was by a fellow watch collector (Dave “Sweets”), who I know from a few forums – he is a highly respected collector and knows his stuff…
Here is his findings on the Marine Star… well worth a read..
Wittnauer Geneve Professional Chronograph Ref. 7004A 239T c1960’s.
(Longines-Wittnauer Watch Co.)
Calibre: Landeron 248, 17 Jewel manual Swiss movement
This is an early example of the 7004A powered by a Landeron 248 movement, with the desirable full lumed triangle on the bezel, baton style min/hr hands, lollipop chrono hand, ‘Geneve’ dial scrip and original signed Beads of Rice bracelet. All these elements add up to a very cool chronograph.
The Landeron 248 was used up to c1969-70, after which the Valjoux 7733 was used. The later models are commonly seen with the arrow head ‘old school’ divers style minute hand and a metal triangle with small lume pip on the bezel. It is noted that some early models didn’t have ‘Geneve’ on the dial or a bezel lume pip at all. An unusual feature of the Landeron 248 is that the top pusher only activates the start the chronograph. The lower which stops and resets the chronograph.
Another example can be seen here:
Wittnauer is well appreciated by the vintage watch fraternity, and boasts a rich history with some remarkable achievements. Some focus on the more well known name that the Longines connection brings, but Wittnauer stood on it’s own two feet as producing innovative and fine timepieces.
Founded by a young Albert Wittnauer in c1872, he was a Swiss immigrant that moved to New York. Among the companies impressive boasts, are.. supplier to armed forces in WWi & II, the world’s first waterproof, shock-proof, anti-magnetic watch (1918), Amelia Earhart’s solo Atlantic crossing plane was fitted with Wittnauer timepieces – as was Howard Hughes’ ‘Winged Bullet’ plane that set a US coast-to-coast record. Wittnauers history is scattered with tough environment achievements, earning a well earned reputation of producing reliable, tough, yet fine timepieces.
“In the 1950’s Longines purchased the Wittnauer watch company and marketed a number of very similar lines of watches in the US under both brand names. In this authors opinion, Longines Wittnauer is one of the finest watches a collector can find. The classic designs are fantastic. The accuracy and reliability is amazing, and the parts are readily available. One of my favorites.”
The Landeron 248.. technical info..
Rich Askham comments on the Landeron 248..
“The ’48 Series’ of calibres were some of the most popular that Landeron produced. The series started in 1937 with the cal. 48 and was revised twice to produce the cal. 148 and cal. 248 respectively. Production of the 48 series stopped in 1970 after making around 3.5 million units, and the Landeron name itself disappeared shortly afterwards.
It’s also worth mentioning that the operation of Landeron’s cam-lever chronograph is also slightly different. In most chronograph calibres, regardless of type, the mechanism is started and stopped using the upper button, and reset using the lower button. With a Landeron chronograph, the top button starts the mechanism, and the lower button is used for both stop and reset.”
“Founded in America in 1890, Wittnauer timepieces that were used on trips made by navigators, explorers, and astronomers. They were thought to be at the cutting edge of accuracy and style, and were de rigeur with pioneer aviators in the early twentieth century. They created the first waterproof, shock-proof and anti-magnetic watch, and even helped Commander Richard E. Byrd navigate the first flight over the North Pole in 1926.”
Historic Timeline of Wittnauer
Whilst giving it a good clean & check-over, something made me think ‘The bezel size seems familiar’.. so I popped out the crimson bezel insert & tried an aftermarket Autavia 11630 insert.. and I couldn’t believe it.. it’s a perfect fit !!
Heuer Orange Diver 980.016, Mid Size 32mm case, 200m waterproof
I’ve said it before, these small Mid-sized (ladies/junior) Heuer divers are utterly fascinating. Identical to the larger 42mm+ sized variants, but somehow Heuer managed to scale down all the elements to make a lovely looking watch – that’s not easy. The attention to detail and quality is remarkable. In fact, somehow it seems more of an achievement with these smaller cases. Obviously I’d never be able to wear them, but they are fantastic to handle and admire.
This one is in wonderful condition, and being an orange dial variant, is pretty rare. I have to say, it’s gotta be one of the coolest boys or ladies vintage diver watches out there. This isn’t the smallest model, which is housed in a 28mm case, this is the next size up with a 32mm case – far more well proportioned for todays tastes.
I had a new glass fitted and had a black glass gasket fitted too, which really complements the look – the standard gasket was a clear/white colour. Apart from that, it’s all original and a true surviver.. so many of these are beaten up.
They are built to high standards too, all stainless steel cases and bezels, plus waterproof to 200m, just like their bigger brothers. A true old school tool watch for the watch collectors son or better half. Another detail (that is high praise to Heuer) is the ‘warm’ lume, it has a very delicate ‘peach’ tint to it, to complement the orange dial. I’ve noted this before on the full sized version. On the black dial divers, the lume has a greenish tint – seems that Heuer really did think about the very fine details. I even managed to find a Black NOS Swiss Sport Tropic strap for it, and a NOS Blue Tropic Star strap – plus I made a black leather rally strap for it.
These were seen in the ’81 Heuer speciality catalogue as well as the ‘82 catalogues. Back then they cost quite a bit.. at £128.24 in the UK and $240 at US dealers.
Catalogue link over on OTD:
1981 Speciality Catalogue
Omega Speedmaster Pro 145.022 – 69, Cal 861.
I’ve had this watch some time, maybe a year or so. I took it in part trade for my old Silverstone Fume. It was a lovely watch, but had a few cosmetic issues that needed sorting, so it’s been left unloved in the watch box, until now. The minor restoration process is detailed further below.
I’m no Omega expert, but I do love the old ‘uns. Here is some information that was supplied by the previous owner, explaining the finer details of the watch…
This 1969 Speedy Pro features the rare Seahorse ‘hippocampus’ caseback with none of the later NASA engravings. It is worn from 40 years of use but the hippocampus is still visible. The inside is engraved with the model number 145.022 69 with “69” being the year of production. It features a rare tritium stepped dial in with painted Omega logo. Take a close look at the “R” on the end of the word Speedmaster. Original dials have a long stylised “R” whereas later dials and service replacements had a short-tailed “R”. The stepped dial (step down to the minute track) was only in production for a short while on cal 861’s and Omega switched to a gradual slope in the early 70’s.
The bezel features the rare “225-220-190” markings (this was actually a mistake made by Omega and later models read “225-200-190”).
The restoration process..
Please do not confuse my efforts as anything other than a hobbyist ‘having a go’, I’m no restorer, but I do like a challenge, but the possibility of it going horribly wrong was always on my mind.
These projects are personal choice, I know some don’t approve.. but here is my story..
It needed a few minor cosmetic issues dealing with – main hands had paint loss, lume loss, crystal a bit worn.. but one issue stood out like a sore thumb. (to me) – sometime in it’s past a watchmaker must have cleaned the old lume away. These super thin lume markers don’t usually fair well over time.. usually leaving just a ‘stain’ of very thin patina on the hour markers. This had been completely cleaned away on my example, leaving behind the bright white painted hour markers.
I had a tough decision, do I leave as is or have it re-lumed in vintage tones. I decided to go re-lume, as the dial looked totally out of place in a vintage piece. I contacted jedi lume master James, but even he had reservations… Apparently to get very detailed/delicate re-lume edges requires a thicker solution, which is almost impossible to apply on the thin Speedy markers, especially with my ‘Stepped dial’. The chances of crisp square lume was minimal.. overspill being a major possibility with a thinner lume solution. Sometime later, I mentioned the same to Abel.. he was willing to have a go, but I was a little worried, as I didn’t really want fresh ‘puffy’ lume.. I wanted it to look how it would have before the old lume was cleared away.. sort of eroded, uneven.
So, I dropped the re-lume idea.. but I didn’t want to give up. I thought about trying to recreate that ‘stained thin degrading lume’ we see on Speedies that have lost some lume. I experimented with many substances. I experimented on some gloss paper with tea and coffee.. but that produced a ‘flat’ brown. I wanted to get that mottled honey-golden-brown effect, and I didn’t want a uniform colour. I tried adding some yellow artist paint to some coffee – that worked better, but still wasn’t anywhere near what I was after. I even tried rubbing some small rocks together to get a powdered stone to mix with my coffee solution!! – that didn’t work.. I was obsessed with finding a solution.
Then… a breakthrough..
I was watching a clip online about the making of a recent UK TV series that was based in industrial Birmingham (UK) in circa 1918.. the video featured the set designer going through ‘house sets’ explaining how they did this, that and the other. He said that the period wallpaper had a ‘nicotine’ wash added to give it that genuine faded old golden smokey look.. and I got an idea…
Ironically, the set designer was technically ‘wrong’ (AFAIK), this ‘nicotine’ wash shouldn’t be called that – it’s the tar that makes that ‘old faded golden brown’ colour. So, I got an old clean margarine tub, (lid still on) cut a hole in the side and slid in a lit cigarette horizontally & let it burn. I did this multiple times. This left a tar residue on the inside of the tub. I then let it ‘air’ outside for a week or so.
Then, using a 0000 size sable artists brush, and a touch of water.. I used this residue to do some testing on glossy paper.. and voila.. several layers, allowing to dry between coats, created a really rich golden-brown-mottled-tobacco effect.. After plucking up the courage.. I set to work on the dial. The mottled, aged effect came up wonderfully.
I had James fit genuine Omega hr/min hands, which I also tinted (the lume) with my 0000 brush – that was very tricky, I can tell you. He fitted was a new gen Omega crystal.. which I was pleasantly surprised to find cost bugger all… (around £25ish).
Heuer Carrera 510.523, Lemania 5100, c1983
I really enjoyed the PVD version of this model, so jumped at the chance of trying the stainless version. There is something alluring about the L5100 driven Heuers, they ooze rugged tool watch vibes. This Carrera model doing so without being oversized. It’s comfortable at 38mm across and it’s slender profile. As I have mentioned before when talking about the PVD model, this Carrera is surprisingly well balanced and comfortable, plus seems to suit many strap types – shark-mesh, NATO, leather, bracelet. (Pic above with aftermarket Hadley Roma bracelet)
Released in c1983, this was among the last in the line of the Heuers.. with TAG Heuer running down Heuer signed stock. It was also the last ‘Carrera’ signed model under Heuer (together with the PVD version). It has the ‘Autavia-esk’ sunburst graining to the upper case surface with polished sides. The Carrera is in the spotlight right now with the 50th Anniversary being this year, and this more modern model seems to get overlooked… maybe it’s because they aren’t that common, but it’s a pleasure to wear.
More reading here: http://chronomaddox.com/heuer/articles/carrera_article/_carrera_pt4.html