Another Wednesday means yet another great group of vintage watches hitting the HODINKEE Shop. As we settle into 2021, our focus has been curating a selection that’s broad in brand name, formality, and price point with every watch offered possessing the intrigue to be the crown jewel of a collection. If pressed to propose a theme to this week in particular, it would be examples of classic models with all of the little details collectors seek. An 18k yellow gold ref. 1005 Oyster Perpetual from 1963 is great, but ours, with the added detail of a Serpico y Laino retailer signature, really jumps off the page. We have an Explorer ref. 1016 but with a glossy gilt dial, a vintage Datejust with “wide boy” hour markers, and a Universal Genéve Tri-Compax from one of its first years of production. Nearly every watch this week has a detail that adds to the story and collectability. Read on to get into the full stories behind a few highlights of this group, or head over to the HODINKEE Shop now to check out the full selection.
1946 Longines ‘Oversized’ Ref. 5045
By Saori Omura
Many mid-century watch designs have truly withstood the test of time, and it’s no wonder they’ve remained flagship models for many watchmakers today. Think of Omega’s Speedmasters or Rolex’s Submariners – the list goes on. However, it’s not only about specific models but also about compelling individual watch designs that have inspired the companies to bring them back to life with a modern interpretation. Case in point: the Longines Heritage 1945, which the brand released in 2017. This model was based on a time-only dress watch from 1945 that was neatly tucked away in none other than our founder Ben Clymer’s collection. The example we have here from 1946 is very similar to that beautifully executed vintage piece.
The equally minimalist dial design is adorned with a set of blued steel feuille hands as well as a center-seconds hand; it also developed a featherlight patina to the overall dial surface. It features an oversized case at 37mm, which is decidedly large for its era. In addition, the svelte bezel proportion makes the dial appear a lot larger than its actual size. The uncommon semi-spherical hour markers that are placed slightly toward the center provide subtle yet effective accents to the dial. And I love the satisfaction of winding up a manually wound watch. It feels like a daily check-in with your dear friend making sure it’s doing well and ready to tackle the day ahead. As noted on the included extract from the Longines Archives, the watch was invoiced on December 31, 1946, to Japercia, an agent in Brazil for Longines at the time. It’s simple, it’s elegant, but somehow it’s also sporty and approachable. If you need a perfect companion on your wrist for any time, anywhere, head over to the Shop now.
1963 Rolex Explorer Ref. 1016 ‘Exclamation Point’ With Glossy Dial And Full Set
By Brandon Frazin
I have to be honest here: It took me a few years to come around to not only the ref. 1016, but also the Explorer in general. I would typically wear a Submariner or another watch that was 39mm-plus, so I always thought 36mm would be too small for me. After being in the watch world for a few years and really getting to see what’s out there, one day I realized I was actually into the Explorer, and the size was perfect. Personally, I have amassed a small collection of watches in the sub-36mm category, and now when I put on an Explorer, it feels substantial. I don’t own one – hopefully one day – but to me, the Explorer ref. 1016 has the potential to be the headliner in a one-watch collection. It can cover sporty, dressy, and everything in between.
The watch we have here today, a glossy dial version from 1963, can certainly be a contender to cover all one’s needs. The glossy dial helps dress the watch up, but the bracelet keeps it sporty. I’ve become a sucker for glossy dials the past couple of years, but these early 1016s are special for a few reasons. First off, this watch has that beautiful glossy dial as well as the exclamation point at six o’clock. It’s understood that the little dot under the six o’clock was to signify that the luminous material had changed to a less radioactive substance. Rolex would make the change from radium to tritium lume around this time period.
In addition to the neat exclamation point, this watch comes with its original box, papers, chronometer papers, and even product literature brochure. Looking through these old accoutrements makes me think of what it was like when this watch was purchased new. I even bring the box up to my nose for a little whiff, and there it is, that familiar smell reminding me of my grandparent’s basement – gotta love it. As that scent hits the olfactory, I wonder if this person had been saving up or it was just another day in their life, and they decided to get a new watch. Either way, I’m thankful they decided to hold on to everything so that you too can share in this experience should you choose to make this watch your own, right here.
1945 Universal Genève Tri-Compax Chronograph Ref. 22279
By Rich Fordon
Universal Genève’s Tri-Compax was one of the first models I was drawn to when getting into vintage watches. Before seeing much of what the world of vintage has to offer, a wristwatch with a day, date, month, moon-phase, and, to top it all off, chronograph, is mindblowing. Especially intriguing is when this is all done in a smart and well-designed way, such as the UG Tri-Compax. The four-sub-register design works so well, never feeling cluttered, even in examples like the one we have here with large luminous kite-shaped hour and minute hands. This dial says a lot about Universal Genève back in its heyday, as the brand, “UNIVERSAL GENEVE,” and model, “TRI-COMPAX,” are both, dare I say, afterthoughts, always at least partially covered by at least one hand.
Making this particular example exceptional is a tangential relationship with a watch purchased from the 2012 sale of the Henry Graves, Jr. and Reginald “Pete” Fullerton, Jr. collection at Sotheby’s and covered on HODINKEE by our very own Ben Clymer. The watch we have shares a reference number with Fullerton’s Tri-Compax as well as the same “coat hanger seven” font of the hour marker. In comparison, we found that the two watches are separated by only five case numbers, likely leaving the Universal Genève manufacturing facility within days of each other. Even if the connection is loose, it’s good enough for me; an almost-connection with a name like Henry Graves is worth the stretch. Check out the watch and a little more of the story right here.
To view the entire current selection of vintage watches available in the HODINKEE Shop, click here.