Vintage Watch Update No. 117
This week’s newsletter opens with one of the icons of 20th century wristwatch design, the Memovox alarm wristwatch by Jaeger-LeCoultre. Over the decades the Memovox has been styled with a variety of different case and dial designs. The present example is a classic piece from c. 1967 with a relatively large case, measuring 37mm in diameter. The bold, linear dial has gently tapering indexes which are centrally set with black inserts; the straight baton hands are styled to match with centralised luminescent tips mirroring the luminescent panels set at each hour, within the track for minutes/seconds. To the dial centre, the alarm setting disc is finished with a circular satin grain which gives the dial a two-tone appearance – in fact, as the track for minutes/seconds is chamfered inwards, it creates the illusion of a 3-tone dial, the eye perceiving three different dial finishes as it catches the light.
Next is a lovely example of the Longines ‘Jamboree’ Ref. 6884 from c. 1958. This dial finish is one not often found on Longines watches of the period, being an off-white enamel painted dial. The stainless steel case retains good definition and the case back has the original fine concentric satin rings to the edge. Manually wound, the watch incorporates Longines’ 17 jewel calibre 280. The luminescent dots and panels to the hands have a very attractive and warm patina, the dot by 9 o’clock is worn; there is some crazing to the dial’s surface (as expected on enamel painted dials of this period).
Shown above is a rare and early wristwatch by Zenith which was retailed by T. S. Cuthbert’s of Glasgow in circa 1935. The steel case has a multi-faceted upper body with recessed winding crown placed between the lugs above 12 o’clock. Such positioning not only provides practical protection to the crown from knocks, but also ensures the sharp lines of the case sides remain uninterrupted. The silvered dial has strong two-toning and handsome patination to the surface. The Zenith signature is placed above the subsidiary seconds dial, allowing the upper part of the dial to be devoted to the retailer’s name – in this instance T. S. Cuthbert, Glasgow, whose signature is ghosted with age below the 12 o’clock position. Incidentally, Cuthbert’s retailed some pretty fabulous watches in the 1930s…we had a beautiful 1930s Longines at Black Bough some time back – you’ll find reference to it in the production description of this Zenith on our website.
Pictured here is a fantastic Omega Seamaster 600 originally sold in 1966 that is complete with its original paperwork and boxes. The silvered dial has extremely attractive Arabic numerals which have a sharp, linear design and are centrally faceted. The steel case has clean lines and a polished finish and the watch is fitted with a detachable Omega bracelet with adjustable folding clasp. Manually wound, the watch is powered by Omega’s calibre 600.
Continuing with Omega and photographed above is an Omega Chronostop Ref. 145.009 from c. 1968. A handsome example of this model, the dial is in good original condition with full luminescent dots that have some gentle ageing. There are scuffs and scratches to the stainless steel case. This watch is accompanied by a red Omega presentation case with Omega leaflets (the guarantee booklet is lacking the detachable numbered certificate page.) A flyback chronograph model, the upper pusher starts and stops the orange seconds hand which can be kept continuously running, kept static at 12 o’clock, or used to record intervals up to 60 seconds in duration.
A classic Tudor Oyster Ref. 7934 from the mid 1960s is next. This watch has a smart silvered dial with applied baton indexes. Unusually for this model, the dial is of non-luminous type with special Alpha shaped, non-luminous hands and with no lume ‘accents’ above the numerals. The robust and classic stainless steel Rolex Oyster case has a smooth chamfered bezel and typical screw-down Rolex crown and case back. This watch is powered by the Tudor calibre 1156 with 17 jewels. As part of this watch’s service and overhaul it has been pressure tested for water-resistance for depths up to 30 metres.
This stylish lady’s Jaeger-LeCoultre wristwatch hallmarked for 1979 has a solid 18ct yellow gold case which is rich in tone, with elongated ‘stirrup’-form lugs and, unusually, a winding crown set to the case below the 6 o’clock position. The watch is fitted with its original Jaeger-LeCoultre branded leather strap and pin buckle. Manually wound, the movement is LeCoultre’s 17 jewel calibre 840.
Also from the 1970s is the 9ct yellow gold Omega Genève wristwatch pictured here. This gentleman’s dress watch, a Ref. 131.5016, has a vertically satin grained dial with applied gold indexes with blackened centres. The 9ct yellow gold case has slim lugs and a polished finish with satined centre to the case back. Manually wound, the watch is powered by an Omega calibre 613 which has provision for quick date adjustment via a second setting to the crown.
And rounding off this week’s newsletter is an excellent copy of the first edition of Patek Philippe ‘Wristwatches’ by Martin Huber and Alan Banbery, published in 1988. This book was a follow up volume to Huber and Banbery’s 1982 work which had concentrated on Patek Philippe’s pocket watch production (a copy of which featured on our Vintage Watch Newsletter No. 114 at the end of June). Such was the demand for a book on wristwatches that this book was published 6 years later.
The book begins with the origins and history of the company, biographies of the company’s founders, details of Patek Philippe’s inventions & patents relating to wristwatches, the history of the wristwatch and Patek’s development of the genre. There are summary tables with production numbers for some of the company’s most important wristwatches and movement serial number charts. The vast majority of the book, 167 pages in fact, are devoted to lavish illustrations in both colour and black and white showing the extraordinary variety and, of course, outstanding quality of this famous watchmaker. Many of the photos are original archive images and feature pieces are from the company’s museum, others are from private hands – some of which have, since publication in 1988, been purchased for the museum. Many of the most important wristwatches made by Patek Philippe are illustrated in detail, including, cases, dials and movements. An absolutely essential addition to the library of anyone with a passion for watches. This is a hardback book with blue cloth covers and original dust jacket (the top right corner of the dust jacket has been cut and repaired).
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