21 Jul Vintage Watches of Instagram – July 2018
Well, here we are again folks. Another month, another great selection of vintage watches of Instagram! For those who didn’t read last month’s article, I pick out five watches that are available from dealers on Instagram and look at what makes them great.
There are plenty of people who’ve written about Tudor Snowflake Subs, Omega Speedmasters, or Heuer Autavias, and why you should totally shill out several thousand on the one they happen to have up for sale. So to counter that, these five will be made up of more unusual pieces that usually fly under the radar of the mainstream market. That doesn’t mean that you won’t see well-known names on here (the first watch is an Omega), it just means they won’t be the models that every man and his dog is posting all over Instagram next to yet another cup of artisan coffee…
1. 1971 Vintage Omega Seamaster 60 from Omega Enthusiast
Let’s kick things off with a damn fine looking Seamaster offered by Omega Enthusiast. The 60 series is perhaps the most uncommon to see, but that just adds to the charm of this quality example of a vintage diver. The watch is in remarkable condition for its age, with a sharp unpolished steel case, Omega bracelet, crisp dial, and clear crystal. The deep blue dial is in good condition, with only minor spotting, and personally I dig the chequered minute track that is oh so Seventies. Another neat touch is the internal date magnifier on the crystal, which you don’t often see when the crystal is replaced during servicing. The Omega Enthusiast has also serviced this watch, and provides some nice pictures of a squeaky clean movement and inner case for you to examine.
At the time of writing the watch can be bought for $3520 with international postage, a not inconsiderable sum. However, given the condition of the watch inside and out, the fact that a buyer can see all the serial numbers on the case and movement, and the rising cost of the more common Seamasters, I’d say this is a good investment in an uncommon offering from a great Swiss brand. If you agree, you can buy this Seamaster 60 from the Omega Enthusiast here.
2. Mid 60’s Benrus 3-Star Automatic with Box from Retro Watch Guy
Next is a nice everyday wearer from US brand Benrus, who at one time were the third largest watch company in the USA, behind Elgin & Bulova. Whilst its design is simple, its condition and execution are outstanding. The applied 12,3,6,9 numerals really catch the eye against the background of the silver sun-ray dial, and their golden finish dresses the watch up wonderfully. The logo is also quite cool. Beneath the printed name is the applied three stars logo, and Romanian tricolour (the family who owned Benrus came from Romania). It’s a bold logo, which comes straight out the Sixties, and the splash of colour draws the eye.
As if things couldn’t get any better, the three-star signed crown is also original, and the watch comes in its original box. Retro Watch Guy claims to have serviced the 25 jewel ETA movement, though doesn’t provide movement pictures. However, I’m sure some could be provided on request!
Overall, I don’t think I need to point out as to why this is such a good buy, as it’s pretty obvious from the condition of the watch and its classic dressy looks. At $475 I think this is an absolute steal, and you can buy it here.
3. Late 1950’s Steel Zenith from Shuck The Oyster
Coming in a number three is a modest 34.5mm steel Zenith. The seller has branded it “Calatrava style” but personally I think this looks too casual a piece for that comparison. Despite this, the watch follows a classic design formula that still looks great today. Applied hour markers, again that classic 12,3,6,9 layout, and burnt radium lume against a creamy dial are always going to be a winning combination.
The steel case has the usual scratches for its age – a feature that many prefer as it indicates authenticity over a case that has been re-polished. It’s nice and beefy, and has sharp chamfered lugs that add some great detail. The case back is also engraved “E.L. – 14.7.59”, which provides both a year for its age, and a touching reminder of its history. Shuck The Oyster have serviced the movement, which is one less thing for a buyer to worry about, and the Zenith cal. 120 movement appears in good condition.
Overall it’s a simple, clean design from a known Swiss brand, and with an in-house movement. At €700, in this ever-inflating vintage market, I find it pretty good value for money considering the package you get, and I’d happily buy and wear this myself. You can pick up this 59 year old Zenith here.
4. 1970 Caravelle Sea Hunter from Those Watch Guys
At number four we have another dive watch, this time from Caravelle, who were owned by Bulova. Whilst intended as budget watches in the 60’s & 70’s, these Sea Hunters are finding increasing popularity amongst collectors for some obvious reasons.
The 36mm case is well proportioned, made from steel, and has no crown guards – making it vaguely reminiscent of the “Big Crown” Submariners. The no-nonsense explorer dial and lollipop seconds hand also add to charm, and the whole thing comes together to give an appealing design that looks like it should belong to a more luxury watch. The watch is powered by a 17 jewel cal. 11DP manual wind movement. It’s an admittedly basic movement, but reliable and this one appears in good condition, even though its service history is unknown.
Given how popular vintage dive watches are, this is a good choice for those who want a classic dive watch without dropping a couple of thousand on a good example. Even previously obscure watches, like the Titus Calypsomatic, are becoming very pricey due to demand for their aesthetics. Priced at $750 this Caravelle is a neat, well made, and affordable alternative for those who have a hankering for a vintage tool watch. You can buy this Sea Hunter here.
5. 1959 Wittnauer Guilloche Radium Dial from Vintage Calibre
Last on our list is a very unusual Wittnauer, which has a couple of issues, but was too damn gorgeous for me not to show you! This striking Wittnauer has a lot going for it, with a funky full steel case, where the original crown sits flush into it, and an amazing dial that makes me wish companies still made them like this. Where do I begin with such a dial? It’s got raised markers, cool retro fonts and logo, bold radium hands and a sub-seconds dial. Overall I think you’ll agree it’s a unique design that is very striking.
The signed cal. 11BG movement appears to be very clean, and I’m very impressed by the detailed description Vintage Calibre provide, including timegrapher results. That said, moving onto those issues I mentioned, the case appears to have been over-polished, which means the lugs’ edges appear to have softened. Given its age I also highly doubt claims that the crystal is original and unfortunately the service history is unknown.
At €2,000 this might be a bit rich for some, but in this game aesthetics make up a big chunk of the perceived value. If you’ve fallen in love with the design, and don’t mind spending a couple of hundred more on a service, this could be a good buy (though I’d try and knock the price down a bit myself!). You can see this Wittnauer on Vintage Calibre’s site here.
And with that we conclude another edition of Vintage Watches of Instagram! I hope you enjoyed the selection I chose, and feel free to let me know your own thoughts about the pieces. In my opinion these all look like great buys and the sellers all seem to know their stuff, judging by the wealth of information & photos they provide. That said, if you’re new to the vintage market, always remember to do your research before pulling the trigger to determine a watch’s authenticity, condition and fair market value.
To keep up to date, you can follow each of these dealers (and myself) on Instagram, and as always credit to the respective sellers for some great photography of their watches.