The Team is back once again with our Market Watch(ing) series where we scour the web looking for good buys, rare pieces, and quirky references. Today, we’re going coast to coast, with examples from HQ Milton in San Fran, WatchSteez in Chicago, and European Watch Co. in Boston. Get your wallets ready!
I have lived in San Francisco for the past year and some of the closest friendships I’ve made have been with watch dealers. Call me naive, but I consider these guys friends regardless of our business relationships. These getleman are Kyle O’Conner of OC Watch Company and Jacek Kozubeck and Scott Kaplan from H.Q. Milton. They have all treated me as a friend as opposed to an opportunity to make money and I really appreciate that. I’d like to talk about a couple of watches from H.Q. Milton today. Not because they are being sold by my friends, but because they are really great watches that you will definitely get a fair shake on.
Zodiac Triple Date Moonphase
First is a Zodiac triple calendar. A finer example of a watch from 1958 you will not find. This watch is complete, and when I say complete I mean complete including the original bill of sale, hang tags, box, booklet, and everything. If this watch said Rolex on the dial it would be a million dollar watch, because it says Zodiac, it’s immensely more affordable and no less amazing. It’s NOS; the owner treasured this watch, and so will you. Try to find a triple calendar moonphase in this condition. I dare you.
The 17 Jewel Zodiac Caliber 1402 is beating strong and the tropical moonphase will tug at your heartstrings. Yes, it’s a little small at 34 mm, but it wears a little bigger than that. If I wasn’t expecting a child soon I’d buy this for myself. Hell, I still might.
Rolex Daytona ref 6239 “Paul Newman”
Another watch that Jacek and Scott have — among many that I covet — is a Paul Newman Daytona. Go search online and see how many real Paul Newmans you can find readily available for purchase. Exactly. Granted, it’s a $123,000 watch. Is it worth that kinda money? I don’t know. Is it a beautiful and rare piece of history that is likely to appreciate in value? Yes, yes it is. This 6239 from 1967 has the venerable Valjoux 722 beating inside of it. I’ve tried it on and looked the dial square in the face and it’s spectacular.
Rolex Explorer ref. 1016
The Rolex Explorer 1016 is one of my favorite references. There are many out there but because of my fondness for them, I am also very picky when it comes to one I would buy myself. Fortunately the good people at hqmilton.com never cease to bring us quality examples. The 1016 featured here is a fine piece. It shows fantastic patina appropriate for its age that will only continue to look better.
Explorers with gilt dials are a cut above their standard dial brethren. The symmetrical 3 6 9 dial with all matching gilt coloring is simply stunning. This is one of those examples and it is amazing to think this watch is almost 50 years old and still looks this good. There’s a small scratch but I like to think that just adds character, and at least you know the dial is original. The case is good shape is well and shows minimal polishing with lugs that are still sharp. As stated in the ad, the hands have been colored to match the dial. This is not uncommon and not necessarily a deal breaker for me. Also included are original box and papers. While some people are indifferent towards this, I equate this to having all original paperwork and records with a vintage car. It just shows that the item, watch or car, was cared for throughout its extended lifetime.
No matter which 1016 you choose, you can’t go wrong. This a fine example of a legendary reference that will no doubt make its owner proud.
DOXA Sub 300T Professional
Another watch I have a soft spot for is the DOXA 300T. I am always searching the web for quality examples, which unfortunately do not pop up too often. This one is an exception however. Featured here is the Professional model, meaning it has the signature orange dial that DOXA is famous for starting.
First thing of note is that the dial is in great shape and one of the finer examples I’ve seen. The markers and lume plots are all sharp with even aging and patina as well as matching hands. This 300T Pro also has the “aqua-lung” logo, which means it was originally sold at Jacque Cousteau’s U.S Divers dive shop. This doesn’t necessarily make it rare but it does give it some vintage dive watch street cred. Very paramount is the condition of the bezel. While dials, hands, crown, etc. can all be sourced and replaced if the need should arise, the bezels are quite literally irreplaceable. This bezel still looks sharp with the numbers still very pronounced and not worn down.
The case looks to be in fairly original condition with little, if any polishing. Proof of this is the condition of the bezel, edges of the case, and still distinct details of the sailboat on the case back. Also of note is the original signed crown. It is common to see these broken and replaced and the fact that this one is original is a good indication of the watch as a whole and shows how well it was taken care of. The ETA 2472 based DOXA cal 118 housed within means there are still many years of use left with minimal and easy maintenance.
Overall, this a pristine example. Considering it’s located in the UK and priced in Great British Pounds, the price is appropriate. One thing to note, as always, is caveat emptor. Especially when dealing with sellers on eBay you are not familiar with.
Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster 1000
Who loves quirky vintage divers? Answer: everyone. That’s why I’m going with this indelibly cool Nivada Grenchen Depthmaster 1000. If you want a vintage Panerai without needing a second mortgage, here’s your watch. The case design is quite similar to the cases Rolex provided Panerai for their early divers, and is one of the earliest to be built for depths up to 1000m (the Jenny Caribbean 1000 being the first). What’s more, the Depthmaster is almost 10mm smaller in diameter than the early Panerai at 38mm (read: wearable).
This example looks to be in pretty good shape considering it was probably bought to be used, and there aren’t many of these available. To my eyes, the dial and bezel look excellent, the hands haven’t aged as nicely, the crown is a replacement, and a watchmaker with butterfingers got a hold of the caseback. All-in-all, this is a great example to jump on if you’re in the market. Best of all, the seller (who has good ratings) says the movement was recently serviced. It’s had a ton of bids left, but still well below where it should probably sell. If it is still sitting below $2K as the auction is ending, it’s still worth it, in my opinion. Somebody snipe this beast!
Croton Chronograph “Paul Newman” Dial
Continuing the theme of alternatives to unreasonably expensive watches, here’s a “Paul Newman” chronograph that’s missing a couple of zeros in the price tag. Okay, okay, so it doesn’t look that much like a Newman Daytona, but there are some serious similarities in the dials. As many of you know, Singer was a dial manufacturer who made the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Newman dials. They also made dials for other watches, including Croton chronographs.
This example from our friend Justin at WatchSteez looks to be in fantastic shape. It has a decidedly ’60s looking case, and I absolutely love it. In addition to the Newman font on the subdials, this chronograph features a tachymeter track and a regatta countdown. Powered by the Valjoux 7733, it should be a reliable timekeeper, and not a terrible hassle for long-term maintenance. I suddenly want to start collecting non-Rolex Newman dials.
Jaeger LeCoultre Teardrop Triple Date
Of all the manufactures out there, Jaeger LeCoultre has always held a special place in my heart. For many years (and still to this day), the brand has been considered to be the “watchmaker’s watchmaker”, for their production of notable calibers for other significant watch manufacturers. To put it rather simply, these guys have been doing it right since 1833, and truly know their stuff – both mechanically and aesthetically. One of the brand’s most recognizable designs of yesteryear is the triple date with teardrop lugs, and today we’ve got quite the example in question.
This beauty features a 36mm, jumbo sized steel case, that has an inscription on the caseback which reads “Banque Cantonale Vaudoise 1845-1945”. BCV gave out these watches to their most important clients upon their 100th anniversary. I sure wish my bank would send me a nice watch every once in a while, though I did get a polycarbonate piggy bank when I opened an account. Dial-wise, this one is certainly in nice shape, with all the original detailing in great condition, along with a slight touch of creamy patina. Additionally, its movement has just been completely overhauled, which is surely a nice little extra bit of reassurance when buying a vintage watch, and a complicated one at that. It’s definitely a very clean piece, with a good deal of classic charm.
This JLC is currently available for sale from a new “dealer collective” on the scene, Menta Watches. These guys just got their start a few weeks back on Instagram (another testament to the power of social media in today’s watch community and market), and they seem like some all around good dudes. From what they told me, all the people involved in the venture are collectors at heart, that decided they want to have a little more fun with this watch obsession, while sourcing some genuinely interesting pieces for their fellow horologically inclined brothers and sisters. With that said, just as always, buy the seller before the watch, and do your homework. Their website is under construction, but you can contact them through Instagram for the time being.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 2481
Patek is one brand that has without a doubt had a tremendous impact on trends within industry, the swaying of personal tastes, and watchmaking techniques as a whole. I’ve always thought that their incredibly important stance can be traced back to certain references over the years, that reinforce the idea that Patek always has been, and always will be the top name in understated elegant watches. Many will agree with this statement, and this Ref. 2481 Calatrava is no exception at all.
According to the folks over at European Watch Co. in Boston, this particular example has never been polished, and it shows. All the beautiful detailing on the lugs and around the bezel is still well defined and easily noticeable. The dial is also in a terrific state for its age, and I personally think that this piece would make a great, slightly dressier addition to any noteworthy collection out there. Furthermore, at a conservatively modern 37mm wide, the piece sits nicely on the wrist with some decent presence and heft. A real winner that checks all the boxes.by