Watch Review, Valgine Pocket Watch

Valgine Pocket Watch


Overview:

I am not usually tempted by pocket watches, but recently I picked up a modern watch for my younger brother, so my interest was piqued.  So, on my last visit to my local antique store, I looked through the vintage bin.  When I opened up this little beauty of a watch, I was amazed at the condition.  I am not sure of the exact age, but, it is Swiss Made, Valgine, 17 jewels, Incabloc, and the dial is just flawless.


The front of the watch has a charming fisherman engraving  and is in very good condition.  The is no wear through visible on the plating and the embossing is deep and high quality.  The front cover pops open perfectly when the pendant is pressed.  If this watch was used, I don’t think was a daily wear watch. The inside of the front dial cover has a well executed tool pattern, a real one, not the stamped versions seen in modern, cheap pocket watches.  The dial is pure white with black roman numeral markers for 1 through 12 and small, red, Arabic markers for 13 through 24 hours.  The hands are very elegant and expertly cut.  The seconds hand is at the 6 o’clock position.  The crystal appears to be acrylic and has no scratches at all.


The rear of the watch has a floral pattern, and is expertly engraved as well.  Again, there is no wear through on the plating that is visible without a jeweler’s loupe.


The watch also came on a nice quality chain and traditional fob, not a belt clip.  A little dandy, but I am sure in a suit, you can pull it off.  The watch is about 44mm in diameter, so not too large, and smaller than what a lot of people wear on their wrists now!

The movement is a 17 jewel, Swiss made movement, shock protected, 18,000 bph,  and keeps excellent time.  The power reserve seems good as well, well over 32 hours.  I would guess that the watch was made in the 60, by how little wear there is.  I don’t think I will wear it much, but I am still glad I acquired this watch.  I have not been able to find out much about this brand, I assume they were one of the thousands of companies wiped out in the quartz revolution.

 

Case: 44mm diameter, gold plated.
Back: gold plated, snap back style.
Crystal: Acrylic, domed.
Movement: 17 jewel Swiss, Incabloc shock protection, 18,000 BPH.
Complications: Small seconds.
Other:   On 12″ watch chain, with fob.

 

 

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Watch Review, Seiko Bell-Matic, 1970.

Seiko 4006-6010T Bell-Matic.

Overview:  While looking through a coffee can full of watches at a local antique store, I pulled out this little gem.   First I saw the back, so I knew it was a Seiko, then I flipped it over and saw some magic words, Bell-Matic.  What is a Bell-Matic?  In the late sixties to mid seventies, Seiko created the first automatic alarm watch.  It was in really rough shape.  The crystal was badly scratched, and even worse, th dial was no longer attached to the main plate!  However, with a few gentle shakes, the second hand started instantly, so the movement itself was just fine.  I asked, he said $5.  I knew it was worth more than that, so I was sold.

Features:
Case: 37mm diameter, stainless steel, ‘waterproof’, 19mm lugs.
Back: Stainless, screw down, marked SEIKO Stainless Steel 4006 – 6010 Waterproof, Japan.
Crystal: Acrylic, lightly domed.
Movement: Automatic, 4006A, Seiko in-house design, 17 Jewels. Base movement is automatic only, alarm is hand wound.
Complications: Day of week, Date, mechanical alarm.
Other: Luminous hands and markers, Lumibrite, rotating chapter ring.

The watch is a fairly modern sized watch 37mm, and fairly thick at 13mm.  The case has a slight cushion effect, making it look larger than it is.  The hands are sword style, and very handsome, and a first for my collection.  The dial is a silver cloth weave pattern.  The markers are applied bright silver with luminous material, possibly rhodium plated.  The crown is unsigned, but over-sized and easy to use.   The reason behind this is obvious, it is how you adjust the alarm.  How you set the alarm is simple.  Pull the crown out to the first position and rotate counter clockwise until the red marker is pointing towards the time you want it to go off.  Press the crown in, wind, then pull the button at 2 O’clock.  When the hour hand points to the time, a little bell rings, much like an old fashioned alarm clock.

To repair this watch, I had to go much beyond just polishing the crystal and removing the DNA of ages.  I had to completely remove the movement, remove the hands, reattach the dial, and put everything back in place.  On top of that, I had to use the big guns and use a polishing wheel to fix the crystal as well.  Hand polishing just didn’t cut it.  In doing all this work, I am really impressed with the quality of Seiko movements of the early 70’s.  Everything was very well put together (other than the dial feet) and had the feel of a fine timepiece.  I did a little research, and this watch retailed for $105 in 1970!  Not a cheap watch in any way.

Overall, I am very happy with this watch.  It has a few small issues, like a worn chapter ring and ding in the edge of the crystal, but the wear gives it some character.  I know if I wanted to flip it, I would make my money back 10 to 20 fold.  The alarm works very well, and I find I am using this watch more than my Omega Speedmaster.  An alarm is handier than a chronograph.

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2 More Vintage Watches

I’ve done it again and picked up two more vintage watches.

First off, we have a Timex, from 1979:

It’s a nice, funky automatic.  It has a nice, over-sized Day and Date, with quickset.

Secondly, I picked up a Seiko Bell-Matic from 1970!

This is my first Bell-Matic, which is basically a wrist alarm clock, complete with bell.  They were Seiko’s top of the line watches in the early 70’s  (except for King and Grand Seiko.)

This one took a lot of work to look half way decent.  The dial was detached from the main plate of the watch, and the crystal was almost opaque.

I’ll write up full reviews when I get a chance, but I think they were both excellent finds.

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Crazy Wants

You would think that with over 20 watches in my collection, I would have almost every type of watch out there.  In order of wanting, this is what remains on my wish list:

Seiko Alpinst SARB17

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The Green Seiko Alpinist

Just an amazing looking watch in my opinion. Looks much more expensive than the $500 asking price. It has the 6R15 movement. The 6R15 is a cousin of the bullet proof 7S26, but it can be hand wound and it hacks. The power reserve is rated at 50 hours vs. 40 the 7s26. Though, it is probably better than that. My 7S26′s usually get about 44 hours. This model comes on a dark, leather strap. It also has a compass feature like the Land Shark, but much less obtrusive. A 200m water resistance rating is nothing to sneeze at either. Dress looks with diver’s type water resistance.

This is my grail watch. Someday I will have this pretty.

It also comes in Black and White, but none are as stunning as the emerald green.

Marathon SAR Automatic with Tritium tubes:

The Marathon Search and Rescue Automatic.  Probably the most hard core tool watch ever made.  Designed for the US and Canadian military.  Meets military specifications for divers and weapons fire.  Plus, it looks bad ass.  The US versions are hard to come by, since they are built in lots for the military.  This is the Canadian version, which is legal to own and order.  Inside beats a Swiss Made 2824 automatic movement.  It is 300M/1000Ft water resistant with Tritium tubes for luminous material.  The case is a reasonable 41.1mm, so not giant, and actually smaller than several of my watches. It should glow for at least 10 years with no exposure to light.  Gotta love the radioactive symbol on the dial.  It isn’t decorative, it is to warn operators to dispose of it properly as nuclear waste.  About $650.

Men’s Uzi® Protector Nylon Strap Tritium Watch Black:

The poor man’s version of a Marathon SAR. Quartz, but very tough, with a stainless steel case. About the same size at 42mm and has Tritium tube markers.  200M water resistance means it makes a great camping and outdoors watch.   Nice, rugged look, and only costs $80 on amazon.  Glow guaranteed for 25 years.

Seiko 6138 based Chronograph:

This is the Seiko 6138-8020 Chronograph.  Possibly the best chronograph movement from the 1970’s.  In several ways, the 6138 is a better movement than the Valjoux 7750.  It is a true column wheel, vertical clutch movement.  What the heck does that mean?  The chronograph is fully integrated into the movement, not an add on module, like most movements.  The 6138 is also Day and Date, and has a bidirectional winding system, that all Seiko’s have and the 7750 lacks.   It is also a very handsome watch, with a 40mm stainless case and super easy to read hands and layout.   About $200 to $300 on eBay.

Riki AAAA101

Riki Watanabe is one of the most famous industrial designers in Japan.  He worked with Seiko/ALBA (yet another division of Seiko) to create this watch:  It’s the Riki AAAA101.   The lines are so simple, yet elegant.  It is also powered by Seiko’s 7S26m which really makes it a very fancy Seiko 5.  Modern, but not too big 37.5mm across.  It is modeled after Riki’s industrial clock designs, with rectangular hands and easy to see across a room markers.  It also comes in black and a rose gold face.  About $200.

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Watch Review: Omega Speedmaster 3211.30.00

Omega Speedmaster Ref. 3211.30.00 Watch Review.

Around a week ago, I received an amazing e-mail. I had won an Omega Speedmaster, in silver in a sweepstakes from Lussori Jewellery. At first, I had my doubts, but I called, and it is all legit. Exactly one week later, I received it via UPS.

Presentation:



The watch comes in a heavy, leather wrapped box with an embossed Omega logo. This box is inside of a simple, white cardboard outer box, with Omega logo embossed on it. The leather box is lined with white satin and contains the watch, user’s manual, and certification cards for the warranty, COSC certification, and features of the watch. The manual is large, but a little disappointing. The English section is 44 pages long and covers the full range of Omega watches, not just the Speedmaster, so you have to sift through all the different movements to find the one that applies to yours. This type of manual is typical of mid tier watches, and it really surprised me that a watch in this price point would have similar. A typical Seiko manual is about 20 pages long and is specific to if the watch is an automatic, kinetic, or quartz. Overall, the presentation is very nice but not outstanding.

The watch overview:
Now, off to the actual watch review. The Omega Speedmaster is an automatic, 1/8 second, 12 hour chronograph and chronometer. The case is a nicely sized 40mm. Large, but not huge, and well suited to average to smaller wrists. If you want gigantic (over 44mm) look at the Seamaster watches from Omega. It is all stainless steel with all perfectly finished surfaces and edges. The crown is signed with an the Greek letter Omega. It is a little small and surprisingly hard to manually wind due to the crown guards. The pushers work perfectly and have a satisfying click. The top pusher starts and stops the chronograph. The lower resets the chronograph with a flyback action, meaning the hands instantly return to zero when pressed in a snapping motion.

The Movement:

The movement is a refined version of a Valjoux 7750 movement with rhodium plating and a heavier winding rotor. The 7750 is a very well regarded, robust movement. This movement has 25 jewels. The 7750 was originally released in 1972, so it has a long track record. I am very happy I received the watch with this movement, I have heard some of the more recent movements have some issues. Give me tried and true any day. The movement is COSC certified, so it should keep within +6/-4 seconds a day. So far, the watch is running at +3 a day.

The Dial


The dial of the watch is a dull silvery, titanium look. There are sub dials at 6, 9, and 12 O’clock.

The 9 O’clock sub dial is for the small running seconds hand. The dial at 12 is the minutes accumulator and the one at 6 is for hours. The minute accumulator is a jump style, it does not move until the minute rolls over. The hour accumulator advances constantly when in use. I think one of my favourite features is watching the minute hand jump. There are applied markers at 2,3,4,5,7,8,10,and 11 O’clock. The markers have a small amount of luminescent material that works well. There are marks printed at for every second and ¼ of a second. There are also Arabic markings every 5 minutes. The hour and minute hands are pointed stick types with a generous amount of lume. The chronograph hand ends is an arrow, also with lume. The luminescent material works very well. Not quite a diver’s watch, the Super Luminova glows evenly for hours and is more than usable. The dial, overall, is not that cluttered, despite all of the information displayed.

The bezel and crystal:

The bezel has a tachymetre scale, black against brushed steel. It compliments the dial and bracelet well. A tachymetre is used when you want to see how many units per hour. Pass a mile marker, start the stopwatch, pass another mile marker, stop. Then, you can simply read miles per hour (or any unit per hour, you just need to have 2 points of reference.) The crystal is sapphire and lightly domes with anti-reflective material on the inside of the crystal. This is my first sapphire crystal and I am looking forward to seeing how scratch resistant it really is. Sapphire is very hard, second only to diamond and carbide. It is very clear looking, but not amazingly better than hardlex (mineral glass).

The bracelet:

The bracelet is very nicely made, with solid links. It is a combination of brushed and polished stainless steel. Pins and sleeves are used for the pivots. The end links are solid, and should be on a watch in this price range. The clasp is signed with Omega Speedmaster and is has two release buttons, but no safety clasp. Of all things, I think the clasp is the most disappointing part of the watch. The steel they use scratches VERY easily. After my first day of wear, it was already showing marks. Even my $100 Seikos look almost a good as new 3 or 4 years later. Another gripe is there are only two micro adjustment holes. Again, most of my ‘lower end’ watches have at least 4, and up to 8 adjustment holes for a perfect fit. I had to remove two links to get a good fit. This does not bode well for men with larger wrists. I am sure Omega will sell you extra links, so be prepared if you have paws for hands.

Conclusion:

This is truly a well made time piece. Everything is put together very well and it feels more solid than a Rolex or other watch in this price point. In case you were wondering, it retails for $2850. It is not something I would purchased for myself, but as a prize it is pretty amazing. Compared to other timepieces in this category, it stands up very well. A solid movement from a company known for chronographs. I have always loved the Speedmaster line, and I am proud to have one in my collection.

Case: 40mm, stainless steel.

Back: Stainless, deeply embossed with Hippocampus 100M 330FT .

Crystal: Sapphire with a light dome, anti-reflective coating on inside.

Movement: Omega 1164 Self-winding chronograph, chronometer movement with rhodium-plated finish based on Valjoux 7750.

Complications: Chronograph, chronometer, date, luminous markers on dial, small seconds.

Other: Currently on original stainless steel bracelet, with solid end links.

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State of the Collection, September 2010

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Still working on my Speedmaster review (there is a lot to say about a fine time piece).  For now, I wanted to summarize my current collection, including what band/bracelet everything is on.  So, click above to see my collection.  All of the watches above are in the current rotation.  I have a few that are not on a band/bracelet, so I did not take photos of them.

In summary, I have:

20 active watches.

18 are mechanical of which:

  • 4 are hand-wound only.
  • 14 are automatics.

2 are quartz, 1 conventional, 1 Kinetic.

Of all watches, 10 are vintage/purchased used, 10 are modern.

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Watch Review: Vintage Timex Square Faced

Vintage Timex Square Faced

Last, but not least, is a watch I picked up a few weeks ago, and I have finally gotten a chance to review.  This is a squarish faced Timex, of unknown vintage.  I am sure if I opened up the case, I would see a manufacture date, but if a watch is running well, I don’t mess with them.

The dial is a rounded square with simple, chrome plated stick markers.  The case is base metal with a stainless steel back.  The hands are also simple sticks, and there is no luminous material.   The look is retro, yet modern.

The watch came on a truly horrible plastic strap, which I replaced with a metal band.  The movement is a new one for me.  It has a semi-quick set date, which I have not seen on a Timex yet.  The automatic movement also can be hand wound, but does not hack.  It looks like it has a Timex 32 movement, which puts it at the top end of the Timex pin lever movements.

Overall, I really like this watch.  It is simple, elegant, and even has a quick set date.  At $5, you really can’t go wrong.

Features:
Case: 34mm,  chrome plated base metal, square, water reistant.
Back: Stainless Steel, snap on, claims water resistant.
Crystal: Acrylic, flat.
Movement: Timex 32 18,000 BPH movement, pin lever.
Complications: Date, with quick set.
Other: Stainless after market bracelet.

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Amazing day…getting a Speedmaster, for real

Got an e-mail from lussori.com, saying I won a sweepstakes for an Omega Speedmaster!  Well, I remember signing up for this a few weeks ago, and I guess someone has to win.  I called the company, and sure as heck, it’s real!  I am not sure which model it is, exactly, but I believe it is this one:


A silver dialed Automatic Chronograph. I should receive it around the end of next week. The retail price is around $3,000. So, wow, just wow.  Of all the watches to win, my favorite, the Omega Speedmaster.

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