Whether you’re into gold or stainless steel, we’ve got you covered this week. If you’re into chronographs, or more specifically, gilt dial Pre-Extra-Forts from Eberhard, Ref. 2004 Breitling Top Times, and Movado M95s, we’ve got you covered this week. Should you be after an early Datejust with a uniquely printed dial, or even a Universal Genève with a very small dial — guess what? We’ve got you covered this week.
All this to say, you’re in for a good one.
Many think the oversized watch is largely a product of the 21st century, and while there are indeed countless that emerged out of this new era, they’ve always been around in one way or another. There’s this narrative that such references have historically had a quality of anomalous otherness, but considering the number of early oversized models produced by different watchmakers, a not so insignificant demand has seemingly always been there. Because of this, the whole notion of “vintage proportions” has started to make less sense to me lately. Whether you love them or hate them, their lengthy history would suggest that these sizeable timepieces aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Truly high-quality examples of top-tier Eberhard watches almost never surface, so when they do, it’s something to get excited about. Of all their models, the Pre-Extra-Forts embody the watchmaker’s unique approach, weaving together design traits both spartan and heavily stylized. This particular example demonstrates this idea through the pairing of a hard-wearing, 40mm stepped bezel case in stainless steel, with an intricately crafted gloss gilt dial. Just as you’d expect, these relics of the 1940s have some serious heft and presence on the wrist, but it’s one of substance and taste, unlike many of the modern committee-designed, marketing-guided monstrosities of a short while back.
In that it’s always a shame to see cases with powerful architecture fall victim to the polishing wheel, it’s a treat to see this one preserved properly, housing the Cal. 16000 movement in singular style. Under ideal circumstances, with the right watch available, I’ll always opt for a perfectly glossy dial, though I don’t mind the patina that’s developed on this one. I don’t know if I can get behind the description of it as “tropical,” but it’s a properly good looking piece, and there’s no denying that. The way I see it, you should do yourself a favor and skip the Extra-Fort – it’s the Pre-Extra-Fort you really want.
A collector based in the Netherlands is selling this chronograph on the Chronocentric forum to make room for an incoming weekend car. This one will set you back €7,995.
1956 Rolex Datejust Ref. 6605
Getting deeper into the collecting game affords the opportunity to hone in on the specific details one admires in a vintage timepiece, albeit not for cheap, as many will eagerly attest to. Over the years, I’ve learned that early Datejusts simply do it for me – specifically, the early examples. In my opinion, their dials are far more elegant than the still elegant later offerings. This is because, for a brief period, the Wilsdorf brand adorned dials with more compact applications of text, in less heavily weighted typefaces. Yes, the result is admittedly less legible branding, but with a prominently placed gold coronet not even a stone’s throw away, there’s no mistaking it for anything other than a Rolex.
You’re looking at one such early Datejust, which corresponds with the reference number 6605. This one dates back to 1956, and as you’ll notice, it was produced with a brilliant 18K yellow-gold case and a matching champagne dial. All of this is traced by a set of “Alpha” style hands, which pass by three lines of text reading “SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER BY OFFICIAL TEST.” If you’ve gone far enough down the rabbit hole, you’ll know this to be different from the usual “SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED,” making this example among a select few to be given this different designation.
In the provenance report provided by the auction house, they’ve said this printing configuration is unique to the reference, but in my experience, the same can be found on other watches, including those that we’ve looked at in the past. Regardless, I think we can all agree that it’s a wildly seldom-seen dial variant and the cherry on top of an already fascinating watch to begin with, given its only three-year production run and reference-specific Cal. 1065 movement. All that combined with the funky wording definitely makes for one compelling piece, if you ask me.
Bonhams will be offering this Datejust in their Fine Watches sale taking place on August 5 in London. This piece’s estimate has been set £7,000 — £9,000, but where it ends up is anyone’s guess. Get a closer look at it and the rest of the catalog here.
Breitling Top Time Ref. 2004
Should you wish to know what you really think of certain watches, play a little game of word association and see what happens. Certain watches mentioned amongst the right people have the potential to evoke outrage at memories of exorbitant service costs, but for many, the mention of some pieces now evokes little emotion at all. In my case, this is true of several vintage chronographs of which I’ve seen way too many worn-out pieces lately, including the Breitling Top Time. For whatever reason, there’s a lot of junkers out there right now, so I thought we’d get back on track to Top Time excitement with the feature of a certifiably dope example.
For the most part, Breitling’s production of the Valjoux 7730-powered Top Time was made up of chronographs cased in stainless steel, and plated 18K yellow gold. Despite being a fine timepiece, it just wasn’t perfectly aligned with the luxury market, though Breitling still did manufacture more luxe variants. This is one such example, with a case crafted out of solid 18K yellow gold, with the clearly visible hallmarks to prove it. These are far less common than their steel and steel-based counterparts, and they were even fitted with pulsations scale dials on occasion, though today’s example has the standard tachymeter.
What makes this example stand out, and more desirable than a standard variant, is not only the gold case, but also the way in which it’s been preserved. To my eye, the case looks to remain unpolished, and its dial appears flawless, indicating that it was looked after with great care in the past. Further confirming this is the presence of the original box, papers, and manuals, leading me to believe this was known by its original owner to be a properly special watch, which is to be somewhat expected anytime solid gold enters the equation. For a seller that doesn’t look to be much of a watch dealer, this was definitely a nice find, and it ought to scratch the itch of a lucky collector.
An eBay seller based out of New Jersey has this Breitling listed with an asking price of $ 4,599. You’ve also got the option to make an offer, so why not start there?
Universal Genève Ref. 100110/1
In my mind, any vintage watch design that contradicted the archetypal, two or three-handed analog display is worthy of praise. That’s because it’s indicative of a manufacture’s audacity within a staunchly tradition-valuing industry, in the context of a time when sensory overload and less conventional designs weren’t commonplace. All this to say, oddballs are cool as can be, and the upper echelon of oddities is only more so. With many quick to deem Universal Genève collecting an unadulterated hype scheme, I thought we’d continue with a piece that surely proves the brand’s objective genius, and in doing so disproves the naysayers.
While it might not be at the top of every UG-crazed collector’s hit list, the Ref. 100110 will always be one of the brand’s most daring designs. As you can see, it’s a regularly sized piece at 35mm across, but the aperture for the crystal and dial itself takes up a mere fraction of that, with a second aperture displaying the date. Without a printed logo, and only text reading “Universal Genève” above the hand stack, this is an earlier example, though like all other examples, it’s cased in a near-rose, 18K yellow gold. It’s just one of those watches that goes boldly against the grain, and for that reason, I’m in love.
The only thing I’m not in love with here is what looks to be a slight spot of damage towards the center of the hand stack on the dial’s surface, which likely happened while haphazardly removing the hands during service – that, and the crown which I believe to have been replaced at some point. All this to say, these aren’t deal-breaking flaws, especially considering the infrequency with which these come to market. You could most definitely track down a more fitting crown if it’s really bothering you, but even as is, it’s a piece to consider over the weekend.
An eBay seller in Brazil has this UG listed in an auction that’ll come to a close on the last day of the month. At the time of publishing, the high bid stands at $ 370. Get in on the action by following the link.
I’m not letting you go just yet – not without taking a look at an outstanding Movado, that is. For my money, they made some of the most compelling chronographs of the 1940s and ’50s, and even with their marked appreciation in recent years, there’s still a tremendous amount of proverbial bang to be had for your hard-earned buck. Much of the appeal comes down to the epic architecture of the movement.
What I like about this example is that it’s aged attractively and was similarly configured upon leaving the factory way back when. These were produced in a number of variants, and naturally, not all were created equally. With accenting, squiggly chronograph hands in red, and a five-minute track to match, this is definitely one of the more sporty M95’s. Only furthering my point are the luminous hands and numerals found on the dial. One of the many joys of vintage chronograph collecting is finding unique iterations of celebrated references, and I’d argue this is one of them.
Between the Taubert Freres case and three-register Cal. 95M beneath its stainless steel caseback, this one has lots going for it. Luckily, it’s all been visibly well-maintained over decades of wear, as evidenced by the sharp case. The dial isn’t exactly one hundred percent flawless, but there aren’t any prominent markings of note, so the only thing you’ll be distracted by is the beauty of the watch itself. With the market still in a state of flux, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find noteworthy chronographs in this price bracket, so hit the link if you’re interested in skipping past the hunt.
The Italian collector who goes by @matt.watches on Instagram is offering this piece from his personal stash. It’s been priced at €5,900, and more information can be found in the listing post.