Watch Review: Vintage Waltham Small Seconds

Vintage Waltham, Small Seconds

When going to my usual antique store for vintage watches, the owner said he had a new shipment for me.  Did he ever!  I picked up two watches.  This was the first I pulled out the bucket.  A stunning, blue, Waltham watch, with small seconds.  I really wanted a small seconds watch in my collection, and I finally have one.  It is made in France and I have not had the heart to open up the back to see what makes it tick.  Whatever is beating back there is accurate as hell.  After 3 days, it was dead on!  Not even my new Seiko automatics can boast that.

The face is a blue, radial sunburst pattern.  The applied markers are crystals/cut glass.  The bezel is very small, so even though this watch is just 36mm or so across, it looks much larger.  The hands are very long, with the minute hand almost touching the bezel. The tiny seconds hand moves smoothly across the sub-dial and does not stop and start like some sub-seconds watches.  The crystal is a lightly domed acrylic with very few scratches.

The case is base metal with a stainless steel back. 36mm in diameter and 7mm thick, with the crystal.   The crown is signed (W) and turns easily.  The movement is a low beat, but very accurate.  The lugs are typical 50’s to 60′ at 17mm.  The age of the watch is unknown and I have not really been able to find a comparable piece online.  I put the watch on a black, alligator grain, patent leather band.  I think it is very appropriate for the watch.

Overall, the watch is stunning on the wrist and very comfortable to wear.  It is very thin (most hand wind only watches are) and looks like it was a pretty pricey watch when it was new.  It reminds me of  Omega DeVille small seconds.  It was a great find and is an excellent change of pace from typical, gold or silver face vintage pieces.

Case: 36mm, base metal with chrome plating.

Back: Stainless, Marked Waltham, Water Resistant, Shock Resistant.

Crystal: Acrylic with a light dome.

Movement: Hand wound Waltham, 18,000 BPH,  small seconds.

Complications: None.

Other: Currently on alligator grain leather band.

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Caravelle, Vintage

Vintage Caravelle, Hand Wind

aWhat we have here is a simple, hand wound Caravelle watch (by Bulova) made in 1969.  It has a 7 or 17 jewel (probably 17) Citizen made movement.  It is a Japan made watch, with Ttritium painted dial.  The dial is a subtle, satin finish with Arabic markers.  The hands are simple sticks, tipped with luminous material.  It is a Japan made watch.  At the time, Bulova was trying compete head to head with Timex for the entry level watch market.  In fact, this particular watch was originally $9.95, just like Timex.  Unlike Timex, this is a partially or fully jeweled movement, not a pin lever movement like Timex’s.  The case is quite small at just over 33mm with 17mm lugs.  I put it on a jubilee bracelet to give it a 60’s Rolex look.  It works quite well.

Overall, I do like this watch.  It winds easily and keeps excellent time, running about +10 seconds a day, a tribute to Japanese watch makers.

Features:

Case: 33mm, base metal with chrome plating.

Back: Stainless, Marked Caravelle, Water Resistant, Shock Resistant, Anti-Magnetic, Base metal Bezel, Stainless Steel Back.

Crystal: Acrylic with a light dome.

Movement: Hand wound Citizen, Caliber DP11, 7 or 17 jewels, I have not opened the case.

Complications: None.

Other: Currently on stainless Jubilee bracelet.

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Watch Review: Timex vintage 46150

Review Timex 46150 from 1973

As part of my expanding vintage watch collection, I have added a Timex Automatic watch from 1973. It has a nice mid seventies look to it, complete with pillow shaped case and abstract styling. The dial is a gray metallic with ‘H’ shaped markers with a splash of red on the cross part of the ‘H’. It has no day feature. The hands are stick with a wide, easy to see black stripe going down the center of the hour and minute hands. The case is 34mm diameter without and 36mm diameter with the crown, but it looks larger than it is due to the pillow shaped case. The lugs are 19mm. Movement wise, it is an ordinary 31 movement from 1973. Automatic with hand winding, no date. The power reserve is quite impressive so far, with lasting over 2 days in the watch box before stopping. This indicates a movement in very good shape, since it is accurate and has a long reserve. When movements need service they will run fast (counter-intuitively) and have poor power reserve.

Overall, I am very happy with this watch. It is attractive and contemporary looking without having too much seventies funk. The watch was probably worn rarely, since the crown has little wear and the watch is in overall excellent shape, with no wear through on the plating. I currently have it on a military style nylon strap, which brings a little more color and character to the watch.

Features:

Case: 34mm, base metal with chrome plating.

Back: Stainless, Marked Water Resistant, Self-Winding, Dust Resistant,CHR plate over base metal.

Crystal: Acrylic with a light dome.

Movement: Automatic with hand winding, Timex no-jewel pin lever escapement. Caliber 32, 18000 BPH.

Complications: None.

Other: Currently on nylon band.

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Watch Review, Lucern De Luxe

Lucerne De Luxe Diver’s Style

Picked this watch with 2 others as part of my ongoing vintage watch collecting.  It looks like an 70’s style ‘Diver’s’ watch.  It in no way is actually a diver’s watch, since it is not waterproof.  It has a very easy to read dial with huge, luminous markers and hands.  The case is submariner style with a modern 37mm diameter and 18mm lugs.  The plating over the base metal is in excellent shape.  I had to buff out some pretty deep scratches in the crystal and refresh the markers on the bezel, but overall, it is in pretty good shape.  The wear adds some character to the watch as well.  The crown is large and easy to turn.  Accuracy is acceptable, running about +30 a day.

The Lucerne has a 1 (one) jewel Swiss movement, the Baumgartner 866 aka BFG 866. Apparently these were very popular movements for fashion watches back in the 60’s and 70’s that wanted to say Swiss Movement, but wanted to keep the cost down. It is a low beat, pin lever with a single jewel on the balance wheel. The photo above is not my actual movement, but looking inside revealed the exact same movement and a name Basis ZZ. Don’t know what that means, but that is what it was stamped. It was also immaculate, which is pretty remarkable the watch is only dustproof.

Overall, I think I got a great deal and good beater watch with unique looks.  It is a very easy watch to read, and with only one jewel, pretty much shock proof.  I enjoyed

Features:
Case: 37mm, base metal with nickel plate? Dustproof.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw on, Marked Stainless, Dustproof.
Crystal: Acrylic, minimally domed.
Movement: Hand wind,  1 Jewel, Baumgartner 866 aka BFG 866, unbreakable mainspring, 18000 BPH.
Complications: Date, rotating bezel.
Other: Currently on leather band, luminous hands and markers.

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Triple Play

Went to a local vintage store (my secret) and picked up 3 new watches!

Above is a quick and dirty ‘before’ shot of them.  From left to right, a Caravelle hand wound watch from 1969, then a Timex Automatic from 1973, and finally a Lucerne De Luxe from some unknown time, probably late 60’s to mid 70’s.

They all need bands, but relatively polishing of crystal and cleaning.  All run and  keep good time.

Movement wise, this is what I have found so far:

The Caravelle has a Citizen DP11 17 jewel hand wind movement.  The photos is not my own, but from an identical watch sold on ebay.

The Timex is a simple, no jewel, pin lever watch, 31 series, from 1973.  Identical to my other Timex, sans the date feature.

The Lucerne has a 1 (one) jewel Swiss movement, the Baumgartner 866 aka BFG 866.   Apparently these were very popular movements for fashion watches back in the 60’s and 70’s that wanted to say Swiss Movement, but wanted to keep the cost down. It is a low beat, pin lever with a single jewel on the balance wheel.   Again, this is not my actual movement, but looking inside revealed the exact same movement and a name Basis ZZ.  Don’t know what that means, but that is what it was stamped.  It was also immaculate, which is pretty remarkable the watch is only dustproof.

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New Watch: Gruen vintage

Got a nice score from a funky antique shop today, a Gruen hand wind dress watch!

This is the untouched watch, with a wonderful linen pattern dial.  It is a 17 jewel Swiss made hand wind movement, cased in base metal is 10 micron gold plate.  The crystal is in excellent condition, with very minor scratches, barely worth buffing out.  Temporarily, I have it on a Fossil leather band, but I think will pick up a reptile or crocodile band for it.

So far, the watch is keeping excellent time.  Opening the back did not reveal any time stamp or indication it was made, but my bet is no later than the mid 60’s, so this is watch is probably 50 years old.  Pretty amazing to see a 50 year old piece of machinery still working like it was designed to do.  The watch is 35mm in diameter with 17mm lugs.  Overall, I am very happy with this watch and I will post a full review once I get a chance.

Update:  The Gruen is now on a brand new Hadley Roma genuine lizard watch band.  I think it is very appropriate for this vintage of watch.

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My new watch, the Orient 2ER00004D

2ER00004D

This is my second Orient watch, and I must say, I am very pleased with it.  It very obvious homage to the Rolex 16613, which is probably my favorite Rolex ever made.  That being said, the real deal costs as much as a good used car.  So, what do you do when you love the look of a watch, but hate the thought of buying a fake?  Get an homage from one of the most respected watch makers outside of Switzerland,  Orient Japan.

Now, off to the actual review:

The case is solid stainless steel with a solid case back.  The edges are crisp, but not scratch you sharp.  The sides and bottom are buffed to a perfect mirror finish and the top is brushed.   The overall workmanship is exceptional for a watch in this price point, around $110-$120.   It is not an exceptionally heavy watch and wears easily.

The crown is large and easy to grasp.  It turns with ease and has a good 5 to 6 threads of engagement on the stem.  I am really impressed how well the screw down crown works.  It is buttery smooth to screw and unscrew and is probably the smoothest screw down crown I have ever experienced, at any price.  The crown is unsigned.

The bezel is a 60 click bezel is unidirectional and easy to turn.  It clicks precisely to the 1 minute marks.  There is very little sloppiness that is often seen of inexpensive pieces.  Again, much better than would be expected for this price point.  The gold plating is even and matches other parts of the watch.

The face is a deep blue, with a hint of purple radial sunburst pattern that shifts and changes with lighting.  The markers are the classic Submariner style are have luminous paint applied.  Under a 10X jeweler’s loupe, the face is flawless with no dust or debris.  The luminous paint is evenly applied to each marker, perfectly on center.  The gold plating is very consistent over the whole watch, with the markers, hands, bezel, crown, and band all the same yellow gold color.  The lume is adequate, but not exceptional, on par with my Seiko 5’s, but not with my true divers.  The date wheel has a silver/champagne look to better match the dial markers.

The hands are also the classic submariner Mercedes style with even gold plating and lume.  The second hand has a large lume pip.  It is easy to time with a simple glance.  The crystal is mineral glass with a very effective magnifier, which I would guess is 2X.

The band is solid stainless steel with gold plating down the center of the links.  It is well made, but a little light.  There are no squeaks or rattles.   The clasp is a simple flip over with safety lock.  It is stamped with Orient and their two lion logo.  There are 6 mirco adjustment holes, so an perfect fit is very easy.  I had to remove 3 links for my wrist.  I like a small feature, a little rubber retaining sleeve that holds in the spring pin for the micro adjustment holes.  This particular spring pin just loves to get away from you on every other watch I own,  so, thank you Orient for that little feature.

The movement is an Orient 21 jewel, ER aka 487 movement.  The movement automatically winds quickly and quietly.  It sounds like it has a variation of the Magic Lever winding system, but is quieter than Seiko’s implementation.  Accuracy is excellent so far, +1 second in 24 hours and +3 seconds in 72 hours!  This exceeds COSC specifications, and probably my most accurate mechanical watch so far.

Conclusion:

Overall I am very happy with this watch.  It has the look I really wanted, feels and looks great on the wrist.   It is just a little flashy, but it really works.

Features:
Case: 39.5mm diameter, stainless steel, 10ATM water resistance.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw down, Orient Hologram sticker.
Crystal: Hardlex, flat with 2x cyclops magnifier over date.
Movement: Automatic,  ER00,487,  Orient In house design and manufacture, Japan Made .
Complications:  Date.
Other: Solid, stainless steel bracelet with gold plating, 60 click Unidirectional Rotating Bezel, Screw Down Crown, Luminous Hands and Markers.

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First J. Springs

J. Springs Model BEB006
jspings_1
Here it is, my first J. Springs.  It is made by SII, Seiko Instruments, Inc.  J. Springs is short for Japan Springs.  SII happens to make all of Seiko’s springs and advanced alloys.  Every other watch manufacturer relies on Elnivar (an alloy and the name of a company) for the special metal used to the balance wheel spring of a watch.  Seiko being Seiko, makes their own version, called SPRON 300, in their own factories.  So if Elinvar goes bye bye, Seiko can still make mechanical watches.  So I digress, back to this particular watch.

This is the BEB006.  It is a diver’s style watch with an all stainless steel body and a 120 click, unidirectional bezel.  The watch is pretty substantial at 41.5mm in diameter and a whopping 14mm thick.  That being said, it wears well on the wrist, due to the well turned  down lugs:

jsprings_sideAs you can see here, it has a signed crown, which is unusual for watch at this price point (comfortably under $100.)  The body of the watch is a all brushed, with the crown and the bezel have a high polish.  The crown is at the conventional 3 O’Clock position, unlike Seiko 5’s and has large crown guards.  The watch does not hand wind, since it is a based on the Seiko 7S26B aka the Y676B.

j_springs_21The band and clasp are really exemplary for a a sub $100 watch.  The links are solid and the clasp is a signed push button with a safety clasp.  It does not pinch at all and does not grab hairs.  The bracelet is brushed except for the two bands.  It compliments the brushed and polished case well.

j_springs_faceThe face of the watch is very detailed.  It is a radiall sunburst with a grid of matte dots.  The hands are a classic style are filled with some Lumibrite.  The markers and hands have a high polish and are placed flawlessly.  The chapter ring has marking at 1/5 of a second intervals up to 20 seconds, then every ten minuted thereafter.   It makes a for a very modern look.  The crystal is domed and perfectly polished.

Features:
Case: 41.5mm diameter, 14mm thick, stainless steel, 100m water resistance.
Back: Hardlex exhibition back, screw down.
Crystal: Hardlex, domed.
Movement: Automatic, Y676N, Seiko in-house design, 21 Jewels. No handwind or hacking.  Based on 7S26B.
Complications: Day of week, Date
Other:  Lumibrite, 120 click unidirectional bezel..

Overall, I really like this watch.  It is surprisingly easy to read, even with silver hands and a silver face.  I think my only complaint would be the lume is pretty weak.  It glows brightly to begin with, but dims rapidly.  The watch is very accurate (+8 seconds a day) and although heavy, is not hard to wear all day long.  It’s a real keeper and a great find by Tiffany, my lovely wife.

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SKX033K Review

SKX033K

This is my first “Pepsi” style ‘Divers’ watch.  It is not a true diver, since it lacks:  More than 100m water resistance and unidirectional rotating bezel.  That being said, I am not a diver, and if I was, I have my Orange Bullet, that is a true diver.

Features:
Case: 39mm diameter, stainless steel, 100m water resistance.
Back: Stainless Steel, screw down, Double Wave 100m water resistance stamp.
Crystal: Hardlex, flat.
Movement: Automatic, 7S26 Seiko in-house design.
Complications: Day of Week, Date.
Other: Folded Link, stainless steel bracelet, Bidirectional Rotating Bezel, Screw Down Crown, Luminous Hands and Markers.

This watch looks just amazing on the wrist.  Looks enough like a Submariner, without being a copy.  Fit and finish are typical Seiko, flawless.  It is thinner than my real diver, which is nice for day to day use.  The bracelet looks wonderful (but was a bear to remove a link).  It is folded links, but looks very nice.  It is thin, in a pleasing way.  I can even swap the bracelets between this and my Orange Bullet.  They both use 22mm lugs.  Luminescence is great, probably my second best.  One odd thing I noticed it was hard to see the applied Seiko marker on the dial.  The reason is that when they made the watch, the face of the marker is EXACTLY parallel to the face of the watch.   So when you see glare on the hardlex, you see glare on the silver marker.  To achieve this kind of precision on a mass made watch is remarkable.  So far, I love this watch, and it keeps great time as well (less than 10s/day).

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