Fortis Stratoliner 571.10.142 Lemania 5100 movement, c1988
I’ve had this Stratoliner for over 2 years, but I’ve only just got around to getting a replacement handset fitted. Fortis experts will know that this model came out the factory with ‘paddle’ shaped hour & min hands (see last photo below). They weren’t to my taste, so I sourced some more ‘traditional’ L5100 hands from a Sinn L5100.
The sub-dial hands have been left OEM.
I don’t know a great deal about this model. I believe it’s from circa 1988 and was the predecessor to the well known Cosmonaut. This model was also used as a base for a Merceded Benz limited edition, which featured the Benz ‘Star’ on one of the hands. There is also an identical CYMA badged model to this.
It does have some nice touches, like the number-less hour plots, a domed crystal and drilled lugs, and of course that L5100 workhorse of an engine. It is a very good do-all tool watch, and works very well on a NATO strap. The case is 39mm and 15.5mm thick with 100m WR.
Below shown with the OEM handset..
Tudor Submariner 7016/0 ‘Snowflake’ 1968
I picked up this little gem some 10 months ago, but only just realized that I hadn’t added it to the blog. I’m a real sucker for these old Tudor Subs, whether they be a Snowflake variant or not.
Not being a vintage Tudor expert, I wasn’t confident to hunt one down from unknown private sellers, so I jumped on this one when I saw my friends over at HQMilton listing it, especially as it was freshly serviced and running to COSC specs.
Having rescued many Heuers over the years that have needed a little TLC, I decided to go for this one and get this old-timer back to it’s former glory. Not that it needed a lot of work.. the only thing that was ‘wrong’ with it was that the lume on the dial had been partially cleaned away. Presumably it had badly flaking hour lume plots, and a well meaning watchmaker cleaned it away. Sadly this is not that uncommon, and the hour plots didn’t match the original untouched creamy lume of the hands. Thankfully the rest of the dial is is stunning condition.
So I decided to get the hour plots tidied up and relumed, and a big thanks goes to James Hyman, who is one of the finest master vintage relumers. I’ve used James many times over the years, but he knocked this one out of the park. The colour match with the hands is spot on, even the texture is perfectly matched. More astonishing is that he matched the now non-existent glow of the hands.
I know some collectors prefer no relume work, but I honestly think it was a good decision, and I enjoy the watch far more now.
I won’t attempt to do a write up on the history of this model, as my knowledge is severely lacking. You are far better off following the links below to some great articles written by some real Tudor experts.
Heuer Regatta 134.601 ‘Flyback’ Lemania Cal. 1345, c1983
I’ve been into Heuers for a fair few years now, and although I’ve been aware of the Regatta ‘600’ series, I didn’t really care too much about it.. it wasn’t on my radar. I bought this one as a bit of a punt, and it turns out that it’s really grown on me, to the point that I wear it a lot.
It needed a little TLC, in the form of a fresh service and replacing the heavily scratched glass, apart from that it’s untouched. It has a real heft and solid feeling to it, which makes for a great daily wearer, especially when paired with an Isofrane. The design has dated well too, and has a very current look to it. I’m a huge fan of the last Autavias, with that wonderful 11063 case… this is essentially the same case, just with one less pusher, and the crown on the right.
When the countdown timer isn’t in use, the big ‘space shuttle’ orange & black chrono hand sweeps continuously, a feature which I love. Those wonderful cut-out countdown discs remain black and rather menacing looking, kinda ‘Dark Knight’-esk. It definitely has a military-tool feel about it. The lack of date and hour batons add to it’s stealthy look. The PVD has worn on the usual exposed edges, but to a dark titanium-ish colour, which is really appealing.
When the chrono pusher is activated, the big orange hand flies back to the 12 position, and the blank black discs come alive with a vibrant blue. This is T minus 10 mins, as each minute passes, the blue discs rotate clockwise to reveal orange discs. When all are orange, it’s T minus 5 mins.. then minute by minute they turn black again. This is all for the benefit of a sail-boats Skipper. One glance at his watch, and he can see how long before the start of the Regatta… Essentially, it’s a 10 minute countdown to the start of a sail-boat race.. A cannon sounds a 10 minute warning, in that time, the Skipper has to tack his yacht so that when the cannon sounds the start of the race, the yacht is just about to cross the start line at full sail. A T-10 min cannon is sounded, then a T-5 min cannon, then the ‘Start’ cannon. Below are photos of the timer running through the countdown.
For more reading on the history of the Regatta and other Yachting chronos from Heuer, check out http://www.regatta-yachttimers.com/brands/heuer/
Hodinkee did a little write-up too, here: http://hodinkee.squarespace.com/blog/2009/10/20/vintage-heuer-regatta-in-pvd-the-ultimate-urban-yachtsmans-t.html
See the three ‘600’ series models in the 1983 catalogue… http://onthedash.com/Guide/_Catalogs/1983_Chronograph_Catalog/?show=83TFAA17A.jpg
..and the countdown explanation from the same catalogue… http://onthedash.com/Guide/_Catalogs/1983_Chronograph_Catalog/?show=83TFAA17B.jpg
Below is a series of photos showing the countdown timer in progress…
10 minute countdown begins, the discs switch to blue and the orange chrono hand flies back to zero…
5 minutes left…
20 seconds to go…
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 !!