Vintage Heuer / TAG Heuer watches, and a few others. Plus Handmade straps..

Archive for the ‘Non-Heuer’ Category

Omega Seamaster 300 166.0324

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Omega Seamaster 300

Omega Seamaster 300 166.0324 c1965 Serial No. No date.

First thing first, unfortunately this isn’t a true vintage NOS survivor. It’s from the stables of Australian Omega wizards Watchco. For those that aren’t familiar with their work, they create these watches from genuine NOS & new Omega parts and genuine NOS Omega movements.

You’ll have to forgive me, as I don’t know the finer details of the rich history of this model, so I won’t attempt to. There are plenty of superb Omega enthusiast sites out there with every detail artfully researched.

This one has case number 22,615,XXX, which puts it at 1965. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! The case reference is 166.0324. It is fitted with a true NOS Omega Caliber 550 movement, which (as I understand it) was manufactured for the US market.

It sits on a Ref.1171/1/633 bracelet, which really looks great. I have tried it on an aftermarket sharkmesh, this looks great too – in fact, this watch looks the business on pretty much any strap!

A big thank you goes to the fellas over at Watchco.

Some further reading here:


Written by Heuerville

April 17, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 3H Bund

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bund

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 3H Bund, c1975

The ‘Fifty Fathoms’ name goes back well over 50 years when Blancpain developed divers watches for combat use. I won’t go into the various models since that time, as I’m no BP expert. If you wanted to read up on the history of the Fifty Fathoms & Blancpain, there is a superb write-up here:

Fast forward to 1975, the German Military required a watch for it’s Navy Combat Divers, or to be more precise, the West German Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers. They commissioned Blancpain to produce a special edition of the ‘Fifty Fathoms’ – and this was the result – the  3H Fifty Fathoms. As most of you know, the 3H is a military reference to tritium indexes and hands. This model was never available for civilian use, and only ever Military issued.

The Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers specialised in missions requiring them to be under water for seriously long periods of time, using specialist re-breather scuba equipment, so didn’t require minute markings on the bezel. Hours were measured; hence the blank – or ‘sterile’ bezel as it is commonly referred to.

The bezel insert is acrylic and due to expansion & contraction, many examples have the tell-tale split down the centre of the lume triangle – a good sign of original lume. The bezel is also bi-directional, and has a smooth action with no ratcheting clicks. I understand that there is still a hole in the case (at 12 position) under the bezel where normally a spring wire would be seated, resulting it the usual ratcheting bezel, but this spring was ‘deleted’ for the Kampfschwimmers.

The 42mm Von Buren case (Squale), very similar to Squale’s current 1521 case, but is much thicker at 15mm and I’m certain the crystal is the thicker tough top-hat type – which is probably over-engineered for a 200m diver – I’ve a Heuer diver has a very similar Von Buren case and top-hat crystal, but is rated to 1000m.

It’s powered by a Rayville Cal. 2873 auto movement. It’s not a particularly impressive movement, but seems to have been chosen for its no-nonsense ruggedness.

For further reading and more detailed info on the watch and the Kampfschwimmers unit, there is a great write-up on Mil Spec Time:

Written by Heuerville

December 28, 2015 at 12:48 am

Squale Marina Militare 50 Atmos

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Squale ‘1521’ 50 Atmos Marina Militare

First off, I’m not entirely sure if this is technically a Ref. 1521, it’s certainly very similar to the current models bearing that reference. I’m not sure when that reference number came into use at Squale.

I’ve always liked Von Buren/Squale cased watches, and have owned a few Heuers and a modern Squale 1521 with those case shapes.

I won’t pretend to be any expert in military and/or issued watches, but the research I have done points to this example being from circa 1980 to early ‘90’s.

This particular watch was owned by a profuse collector of Marina Militare/COMSUBIN watches. He is a former military recon diver, and posted a very good account of his collection, with their history here:

This collector sold it on, and I ended up buying it from another diving enthusiast based in France.
This Squale has a rare Bakelite bezel, which features illuminscent minute numerals, which amazingly still glow – but it’s very faint. It’s presumed that this bezel was specified by COMSUBIN – the name given to the of the Comando Subacqueo Incursori , based in La Spezia, North Eastern Italy.

The watch also came with a straight lugged Squale signed oyster-esk bracelet. I’m not sure if this is original to the watch, but it’s a nice extra to have. Unfortunetly it’s way to tight for me, but I’ve bought an almost identical aftermarket version, which does the job nicely.

The watch itself is pretty beaten up, and the bezel looks like salt water and sun has caused for fatigue.. but that’s what is so charming about it, it has been used as a tool, and shows it.
If anyone has any other info on this model, please comment!

Written by Heuerville

October 26, 2015 at 12:09 am

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Fortis Stratoliner 571.10.142

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Fortis Stratoliner

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..

Written by Heuerville

July 25, 2015 at 3:26 pm

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Tudor Submariner 7016/0 ‘Snowflake’ ’68

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Tudor Snowflake

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.



Written by Heuerville

April 20, 2015 at 4:05 pm

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Hamilton Pilots Chrono Military Issued

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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..


Written by Heuerville

July 15, 2014 at 7:55 pm

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Rolex Submariner 1680

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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.

Written by Heuerville

July 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm

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Bulova Marine Star

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Bulova Marine Star
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..

Bulova Marine Star

Bulova Marine Star

Bulova Marine Star

Bulova Marine Star

Bulova Marine Star

Bulova Marine Star

Written by Heuerville

May 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

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Wittnauer Ref. 7004A Chronograph

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Wittnauer Pro
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.”

Wittnauer History
“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 !!

Wittnauer Pro

Wittnauer Pro Chronograph

Wittnauer Pro Chronograph

Wittnauer Pro Chrono

Wittnauer Pro chrono


Written by Heuerville

May 21, 2014 at 12:36 am

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Omega Speedmaster Pro 145.022 ’69

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Omega Speedy 145.022

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).

Omega Speedmaster 145.022

Omega Speedmaster 145.022

Omega Speedmaster 145.022

Omega Speedmaster 145.022

Omega Speedmaster 145.022

Omega Speedmaster 145.022

Omega Speedmaster 145.022

Omega Speedmaster 145.022

Written by Heuerville

December 29, 2013 at 11:40 pm

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