Archive for the ‘Non-Heuer’ Category
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.