Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Update on IWC Restoration

Update on the IWC restoration

            This week I left the movement with my watchmaker he is going to clean and oil it and make any necessary adjustments. I also took the case with me downtown today and asked my friends at Miller’s Jewelry Supplies test it with their XRF. It tested out to be 75% Gold 16% Silver and 9% Copper (Basically standard 18 karat gold).

            After that I dropped the case at Vision Jewelers They are going to make the lug for me and solder it onto the case. After going over it with them, the tentative plan is to make a mold out of the case and cast a new lug. Then they will simply solder it into place. Everything should be done by the end of next week hopefully it all goes according to plan.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Oh, The Hardships of This Business

Being that buying and selling watches is a large segment of my income, I simply can’t afford to grow too attached to them. On the other hand, as a watch enthusiast, I often get the urge to hoard them and keep them for my very own. One of the perks of being in this business, of course, is that I often get to wear the watches for a little while before I find them a more permanent home. I know it’s time to sell them or at least stop wearing them if I start calling them “My Precious”. But then there are the ones that are gone just too damn soon.
In the last couple of years, only three watches really jump out at me as having moved entirely too fast.  In a lot of ways I’m glad they did, because if I still think about them now I can’t imagine if I had time to bond with them. I know, boo-hoo and woe is me, I don’t get to keep my inventory.

The first watch that sticks out in my head was a 1967 Omega Speedmaster. I only had the watch for a couple of days but, in all fairness, I had a previous call from someone looking for one. I mean he was literally looking for that year and had asked me about a week prior to it coming in.

The second one was an Audemars Piguet Millenary Kasparov. What a nice watch that was. It came in as part of a package deal and was out the door less than 8 hours later with another package deal. I think my partner saw my eyes light up a little on that one, he knows I’m a huge fan of Audemars, one of the few watches that I own personally is an Audemars that I had given my father for his 75th birthday and inherited back several years later.

The last one was a Patek Philippe Calatrava from the mid 1950’s. That one I actually did buy for myself (kind of). I bought it one day at a restaurant by the jewelers building in Chicago and sold it less than a half hour later when I was in the building. Why that one sticks out is for two reasons, it was the first Patek I ever owned personally (albeit shortly) and it was the quickest I ever sold a watch. I mean, I literally just crossed the street and sold it without even trying.

I have sold other watches within a day or even sometimes the same day I get them in, it’s actually quite common, these are just the ones that stick out in my mind. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gent’s Stainless Steel Movado Acvatic Wristwatch ca.1935

This is the watch that has been on my Bio picture. I wrote the following report on it for a class I had taken. Sadly, this watch was one of the many that where stolen in a robbery at our store in August of 2012. I don’t have any of the before pictures from when I originally got the watch, but I can assure you it was in a sad state. It was not running, the crystal was broken and the dial was compacted with grime, but I thought it had potential.

The Case 

This Watch is in a Stainless steel round case with Tortue lugs. It is designed to be water resistant with a lead gasket and a cork seal for the winding crown. It is 37 mm from lug end to lug end and 27mm without the crown. It has a decagonal screw back cover on the inside of which you will find the markings for Movado Stainless Steel, as well as the serial number (0159100) and the model number (11730). It also contains the hallmark of Borgel Fois (FB with a key below it), which was still used by Taubert & Fils who had taken over the company.

The Dial

The Dial on this watch is signed “Movado” under the 12. It is a white painted dial with a gold chapter ring with marks that denote the seconds. Outside of the chapter ring in the 6 o’clock position is the word “Switzerland”. Inside the chapter ring is a dark blue circle outlined in gold that contains the numbers (1 thru 12), which are also in gold outlining. Inside of that and above the 6 is the word “non-magnetic”. The hands are upright line style with luminescence inside of them and a long seconds hand.

The Movement

The movement, a Movado 150MN, is a manual wind with 15 jewels and contains a Breguet hairspring. It has a power reserve of approximately 43 hours. It has the word “Movado” engraved above the crown wheel and “fifteen jewels” on the plate.

The Maker

Movado, Founded 1881, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland by Achille Ditesheim. In 1935 the company introduced its first water resistant watch the “Acvatic” (a name derived from the Latin word for water.) 

The Condition

This watch is in good running order. The case back has some scratches ranging from light to deep. As for the Dial the chapter ring is faded and the hour markers are dirty. The dial appears to have been cleaned. Also the crown is not original. I would say this watch is in fair condition

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My First Restoration Project of 2013

I picked up this watch over a month ago, but I kind of put the project off until the Holidays were over. It was made by International Watch Company and is 18 karat yellow gold. I would estimate that it was made in the mid 1950’s.

As far as what needs to be done to restore this into a serviceable wristwatch, let’s start with the case.

As you can see in the picture above, the watch is completely missing one of the lugs.

The back cover has several slight dings that are almost unnoticeable. It also is in dire need of a polishing. The Crystal needs to be replaced, although I could probably polish the scratches off of it.  I think I would have to go too deep and would prefer a new one. 

The movement is an IWC 21 jewel automatic cal.852 in running condition but needs to be cleaned and oiled.

It still has the original crown, which is always a plus. The dial is in poor shape but I will try to save it before resorting to other options, such as having it redone.

I intend to post updates on the progress of this project, as well as descriptions of any techniques I use.

Feel free to ask questions, or share any techniques you prefer.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Importance of Solid Reference Material

In my opinion, the first acquisition of any collector is information. That is definitely true of watch collecting, where slight differences can cost great amounts of money. With the Internet, there is a slew of information that is free of charge and quite a lot of it is very useful. (Warning Cross check facts, as there is also quite a bit of wrong information floating around the World Wide Web). Aside from what is available online, there are several good magazines and periodicals that are great resources. But above all else, building a library of good books is imperative to any Collector, Enthusiast or Professional. I currently have approximately a hundred books on watches, clocks and related fields (Gemology, goldsmith, etc.) and my library is continually growing.

As far as vintage wristwatches or pocket watches, my starting point is normally “The complete price guide to watches” By Richard E. Gilbert, Tom Engle, and Cooksey Shugart. This book, in my opinion, should be the first purchase for an aspiring watch collector for several reasons. The first being the obvious, it has thousands of watches listed with photos or illustrations and current market prices. Beyond that, this book contains a wealth of information, including grading a watch, determining its age and information about its maker. The book also contains a dictionary of watch terms, pronunciation and examples of watch parts. There is information about case markings, Hallmarks, sizes and the precious metal values of the cases.

During a class I took last year on watch appraisals, I referenced this book repeatedly and it proved to be a truly valuable resource. But, no one book can do everything and the information contained in this book is just a starting point, albeit a very good one. There are several dictionaries available for watch and clocks, as well as books on watch making that explain the parts and their functions and, as far as the watchmakers, almost every major one has books about them that are more detailed. But, as I said, this book is a great starting point and quite often I do not need to go any further to make a well-informed decision about a purchase. Because of the usefulness of this book, I try to buy the updated edition every year or two and I believe the (2013) 33rd edition is due out in February.

The authors of this Book are all long time members of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (N.A.W.C.C.) and are considered some of the leading experts in Horology. It is published by Tinderbox Press and is approximately 1200 pages.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

About This Blog

            Welcome to I hope you enjoy this site and find useful information in its content. I further hope that some interesting and useful dialog can be created on these pages that add to the better understanding and appreciation of all timepieces. Some of the pieces you see here may be available on my commercial site,   That site will be selling vintage and modern watches, Watch accessories and other related products.

I have created this blog as a place to share information and opinions on timepieces that I have had the pleasure of learning about. Another goal of this site is to review Horological books and articles that I have read. I can promise that if I review a book, I have read it cover to cover and quite often crosschecked it against other information available. If I review a watch, I have either owned it or had ample time to go over it. I always hope for more input from readers here or on other venues.

            Although this site is primarily devoted to vintage men’s wrist watches I will also discuss some antique watches, pocket watches, modern watches and possibly some clocks. As watch enthusiasts, all of this subject matter is prudent information to us. In addition, I also intend to write about some of the watchmakers and watch companies and the influences they had or have on the industry.

            Understand that while facts are facts, opinions are subject to many factors. When I am stating my opinions on things, whether it is a watch, book or hot broad, it is still just my opinion and your opinion is yours. These opinions are shared to open dialog about a subject and not to bad mouth or libel any product.  Nor are they meant to cause feelings of ill will toward any poster or reader. Although I carry my own favoritism and prejudices for makers and brands, I will try not to let that interfere with an unbiased look at their products or of their accomplishments.