It’s heretical to even ask this question, but how do you improve a Submariner? If you ask us, add a “Pepsi” bezel and GMT complication.
Like so many collectors these days, we’re absolutely enamored with Rolex GMT-Masters. The favored watch of Pan-Am captains, Navy test pilots, Ferrari chairman and mustachioed Hawaiian private detectives, the GMT-Master exudes style. While our jobs may not be nearly as cool, at least our watches can be, and that’s why on most days, you’ll find a vintage GMT-Master on our wrists.
The reference 1675 is features everything we love about vintage Rolex, from the slim 40mm Oyster case to the matte dial with gorgeous patina to the tritium lume. Throw in an iconic “Pepsi” bezel - in this case a fat font version with strong original colors - and the result is a timeless classic.
About The Rolex GMT-Master Model Line:
As the legend goes, Pan-Am approached Rolex in 1953 looking for a watch specially designed for their pilots, and a partnership was quickly formed. A Submariner became the base for this new watch, and several important modifications were made to turn a Sub into the GMT-Master that we know today. Rolex added a date function with a cyclops lens magnifier, GMT complication, and two-colored bezel to provide long-haul pilots with the info they needed as they circumnavigated the globe.
The GMT-Master’s 24-hour hand works in conjunction with the rotating bezel to make tracking a second time zone incredibly simple. When the bezel’s triangle is aligned to 12 o’clock, the red arrow hand points to the time on a 24-hour military scale, which in itself is valuable as a day/night indicator (at least if you’re a cave explorer). The usefulness of the complication really shines when the wearer rotates the bezel so that the numbers around the bezel correspond the a 2nd time zone (such as Greenwich Mean Time), allowing the watch to track any two time zones in the world at once.
Five decades later, the GMT-Master and its “Pepsi” bezel has become a true icon of the watch world. Instantly recognizable and eternally stylish, the watch represents vintage Rolex at its best.
It seems as if everyone is after a vintage Heuer these days, and the majority are looking for Autavias. It’s easy to see why, since they’re the archetype of 60s and 70s motor sports watches. They have large cases, handsome dials and excellent movements. During the golden age of sports car racing, a chronograph watch was an essential piece of kit, and many of the racing greats had a Heuer strapped to their wrist. How can anyone not love them today?
The name "Autavia" comes from a combination of two words: Automotive & Aviation. The first Autavias were dashboard clocks and instrumentation used in automobiles and aircraft, and Heuer recycled the name it in the 1960s and applied it to their line of professional racing chronographs.
If you’re at all tuned into the Heuer world, you’re probably as shocked as we are about the incredible rise in value of manually-wound early Autavias. A few years ago, everyone wanted Sifferts, Viceroys and Monacos, but early 2446s are the new top dog. What was once a $5000 watch now goes for $25,000, and most Heuer collectors (us included) unfortunately missed the writing on the wall. The earlier the 2446 the rarer it is today, and with classically styled inverse panda dials, black bezels, beveled lugs, and Valjoux 72 movements, we all should have seen it coming.
The earliest 2446 references featured 38mm cases with screw-on backs and long tapered lugs, and these have seen the largest spikes in value. These watches were made in three distinct executions, and the value increases along with age. The later 2446s, which transitioned to a new snap-back case in 1968, are known as the reference 2446C, and now represent the best value in early Autavias. The 40mm cases are perfectly sized for today's collectors, and the Valjoux 72 based movements inside are among the best chronograph calibers every made. 2446Cs are not easy to come by (especially in good condition) in todays market, and we at analog/shift truly believe that they are one of the best buys in all of vintage Heuer.
This particular 2446C features a GMT complication, ghosted “Pepsi” bezel, and an inverse panda dial, accented by a red chronograph seconds hand. Certainly one of the most useful Heuer Autavias, the 2446C GMT can time events up to 12 hours, plus track two time zones. We like to imagine it as the lovechild of a Rolex “Pepsi” GMT-Master and a Daytona. Hard to beat that!
One of the best features of this style case is its svelte profile, letting it easily slip under a cuff - something that's not easy to find in a 40mm chronograph. With just about everything you can ask for in a sports watch, the 2446C GMT packs quite the punch.
For in-depth information on the Heuer Autavia 2446C, click on over to OnTheDash, HERE.
Sometimes there’s more to the story than meets the eye. In this case, the name on the dial only tells half the story.
We’ve talked about “Poor Man’s Heuers” before (and here, here and here too), and we keep coming back to these great vintage watches because they’re so popular with our customers, and it’s easy to see why. These watches look just like their pricier Heuer-branded cousins, and the value proposition that they offer is undeniable.
Heuer was the most important producer of high-grade sports chronographs in the 1960s, and in addition to their own line of Carrera chronographs, they produced watches branded with the names of other companies, including Zodiac, Hamilton and Tradition. Years ago, these watches were considered to be less desirable than their Heuer-branded counterparts and were certainly less expensive, leading to the “Poor Man’s Heuer” nickname.
Oh, how the times have changed. In recent years the value of vintage Heuers (especially panda dial Carreras) has exploded. As collectors are priced out of five-figure ref. 2447s, many are turning to Zodiacs and Hamiltons to get their fix. Every bit as stylish as Carreras, and now desirable in their own right, these watches are the perfect entrée into the world of vintage watches for new enthusiasts. For seasoned collectors, they offer a great way to move into more classically sized pieces.
Like most "Poor Man's Heuers", this Zodiac features a comfortable 36mm steel case with sharp, flat lugs, thin steel bezel and pump pushers. The black reverse-panda dial is sporty and highly desirable (and of course Heuer Carreras with panda dials are unobtanium, and priced as such). Powered by the tried and true Valjoux 7730 manual winding chronograph movement, a staple of 1960s and 70s sports watches, the Zodiac is no horological slouch.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, forget “Poor Man’s Heuer”, these watches are the new “Smart Man’s Heuer”. Same great looks at a fraction of the price. A smart move indeed.
Lots more information on the "Poor Man's Heuers" can be found HERE, at OnTheDash!
How many watches can you spot from a mile away? How many watches have come to define their genre? Besides the Breitling Navitimer, not too many. Not too many at all.
When Breitling designed the Navitimer in the early 1950s, the concept of a civilian tool watch was a novel idea. Watch companies produced a few pieces for military use in the early 20th century, but most watches sold at retailers were designed fashion-first. In the 1950s and 1960s, the tool watch market exploded, due in no small part to the popularity of SCUBA diving and growing interest in aviation because of jet travel, and Breitling was one of the earliest players in this market when they released the Navitimer in 1954.
We’ve been referring to the Navitimer as a watch, but that’s not quite right. This is a wrist-worn navigation computer. The Navitimer’s most distinctive feature, the slide rule bezel, is used by pilots to calculate airspeed, ascent and decent rates, flight time, distance traveled, fuel consumption and even imperial to metric unit conversions. The Navitimer truly is a computer, and also happens to be one of the best damn looking watches out there.
Breitling has been selling Navitimers consistently since the 1950s, so we can’t say that vintage 806s are a rare find. Yet while there are a lot of them out there, finding one in good condition is not an easy task. For whatever reason, most were not treated very well by their original owners and are now in a sad shape, which is an unfortunate fate for any watch, let alone one of the most iconic pieces ever made. Refinished dials run rampant, and calling the wear to dials “patina” is often a generous use of the term.
Fortunately, that is not at all the case here. We’ve sourced a lovely all original example of the ref. 806 that is worthy of our clients’ collections. Featuring a Breitling-signed dial (many feature only the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association logo) and steel case, rather than gold-plated, this example of the Navitimer is a vintage Breitling that is easy to fall in love with. This is actually the version of the Navitimer off of which Breitling models its current production pieces.
Whether you’re looking for a pilot's watch or just a cool vintage chronograph, the Navitimer is a worthy consideration. It’s as iconic as any watch can be, and there’s a reason why Breitling has been making them for five decades (answer: they’re awesome).
For a look at this history of this important chronograph, check out this great article by our friend Ed Estlow over at Gear Patrol, HERE.
We are a couple of guys based in New York City with a passion for bespoke style, substance, and authenticity. Admittedly, we appreciate ALL well-crafted and precious things, from fine single-malts to handmade cordovan bluchers, but we have a special and earnest love for the world of vintage goods, in particular, the world of vintage and luxury timepieces. We love the stories and histories vintage watches contain and the unparalleled craftsmanship with which they were made, often harkening back to an era when raw value was respected and a firm handshake was unflappable. Most importantly, we enjoy them for the works of wearable art that they are. We've had it with digital...we are 100% analog.
Our goal is to find and bring to market a small collection of exceptional vintage and contemporary timepieces. All of our items are hand-picked by our team, representing horologically interesting, important and desirable pieces. Essentially, we scour the market for the best available wristwatches, authenticate them and present them to you in an honest and straightforward manner.
We are here to help you buy a watch — not sell you one.