One of the most rewarding parts of working in the vintage watch business are the rare occasions that we come across something truly unusual that we have never seen before. This doesn't happen nearly often as we'd like, but when it does - and when that truly unusual watch turns out to be something downright brilliant, it makes it all the sweeter!
When this piece - an incredibly rare Bulova from the early 1930s - walked into our offices a few weeks ago, our jaws dropped. A local collector has had this in his possession for many years, and pulled it out to show us on a recent visit. Needless to say, he didn't leave with it!
You are looking at a true marvel of horological design. Outwardly, it is simply a handsome steel gentleman's dress watch, fitted with a clean silver dial bearing applied gold Arabic numerals and featuring a mechanical movement with subsidiary seconds displayed by blued steel "Lozenge" hands. The only thing that seems a little out of place is the apparent lack of a crown. But the front of the watch only tells a small part of its story - the backside is something incredible unto its own.
Flipping the watch over in your hand, you will notice that there is a hinged case back attached to the top portion of the backside of the case. At first glance it appears this is an outer covering for the internal case, something you'd need to pop out of place to adjust or service the movement. However, beneath that hinged cover is where the real brilliance of this timepiece lies. Fitted to the "inner" case back is a crown for adjusting the time displayed on the front side. Positioned next to it is a small plunger, which, when depressed, serves to wind the Calibre 7AP movement inside.
Here's how it works: When worn on the wrist, the hinged case back is gently pressed and released by the motion of your forearm. This, in turn, depresses the plunger, winding the movement internally. Known by some collectors as a "Back Wind" wristwatch, this is essentially a manually-wound movement which is drawing its power from perpetual motion of the wrist. The movement has been fitted with a clutch mechanism to prevent overwinding, and the whole thing works like a charm. And its from NINETEEN THIRTY TWO! If this watch said "Patek Philippe" on the dial instead of "Bulova," we'd be talking about a seriously valuable timepiece here...
Alas, American ingenuity doesn't add up to a whole lot of dollar value in this instance, but this is a tremendous piece of history and deserves to go into the hands of someone who will truly appreciate it for the technical marvel that it is. Drop us a line if you'd like to discuss!
For us vintage snobs, modern watches can be a touchy subject. Either they give us the same palpitations that their vintage brethren do, or they make us feel, well, dead inside. And for those of you who know us well, you already know that Panerai isn't a brand you're likely to find on our wrists.
That said, there is no denying the allure of their original professional diving watch: the Luminor Submersible. With a supremely rugged case design, signature rotating bezel, 5mm thick sapphire crystal, Helium Escape Valve, and large luminescent dive-style hands, this was a beast when it hit the market and is just as much so today. While big watches are generally on the "outs" in terms of acceptable fashion, purpose-built tool watches such as this one get a pass. While this example appears never to have seen rough usage, there is no doubt that it could take most anything you could throw at it. This is a model that Paneristi covet, for good reason.
This particular Submersible features one of the last Tritium dials offered by Panerai, dating from 2008. It is in fantastic condition over all, with a recent full service and professional case refinishing that makes it look brand new, aside from a slight patination to that gorgeous Tritium! This piece also comes complete with its full kit: Inner and outer boxes, paperwork, tools, service documents and two genuine Panerai straps. If you are looking for a large, professional-grade diver with unmistakable looks, you've found your next watch!
In 1960, Bulova had a vision of the future. In that future, there was humming.
The Accutron was the world's first electronic watch. About a decade before the infamous Quartz Crisis, Bulova put into production a watch that did away with the traditional balance wheel, favoring instead a tuning fork design - a 360-hertz steel tuning fork powered by electromagnets attached to a battery-powered transistor oscillator circuit - as its timekeeper. Designed by Max Hetzel, the Accutron made waves, becoming the first wristwatch to be precise enough to be qualified for U.S. Railroad certification, guaranteed to be accurate to about one minute per month, or about 2 seconds per day.
While the attempt at practical, affordable, and precise electric timekeeping was well-executed, the technology didn't stand a chance against the quartz revolution that came in the early 1970s. Quartz technology was an industry-changing innovation that nearly wiped out electric and mechanical watches alike with their simplicity and supremely low manufacturing costs. The Japanese had a corner on the quartz market and decimated much of the American and Swiss industries in only a few short years.
As the threat of the quartz crisis loomed, Bulova took steps to lower their production costs to remain competitive - a tactic that ultimately proved fruitless. This particular example Accutron is one of their attempts at building a more austere model, dubbed the 219, that did away with day and date complications and increased the number of plastic components internally as a cost-saving measure. Its kind of like the horological DeLorean: the intention was noble but result wasn't great, and didn't catch on with consumers as hoped, but today it marks the end of an era - and an interesting and important place in 20th Century horological history. Finished with a flawless light blue dial, like-new hands and a clean, unpolished case, this model serves as a great example of the future that never unfolded.
Oh, and the humming? Hold this baby up to your ear and you'll hear that tuning fork, still humming away!
It is no great secret that vintage diving watches are at the top of our list of must-have cool shit. After all, it was affection for a little-known (and relatively little-cared about) diving watch brand that kicked off our obsession with vintage watches in general. Ten years on, that brand holds a significant place in our hearts, even after moving into the business professionally, and diversifying in terms of the watches we provide.
The brand that got us hooked is DOXA, originally introduced to us through the writings of Clive Cussler, whose fictional hero wore one in the dozens of escapist adventure stories we read as kids. More than any other brand, DOXA signifies for us the spirit behind mankind's exploratory nature, our desire to understand and conquer our environment. The earliest DOXA Sub Series divers set several benchmarks (quite literally) by which modern diving watches are measured, and were used widely by the professional divers and explorers who are our heroes today. There have been no shortage of 60s and 70s DOXAs featured on our site these past few years, and don't expect that to change as long as they are still available. They are just about the coolest story you could ever strap to our wrist, and they offer a tremendous value.
So what, you might ask, does DOXA have to do with this over-sized shiny thing you're looking at right now? Glad you asked!
During the mid 1960s, the Jenny (pronounced "Yanni") Watch Company patented their MONOBLOC Triple-Safe case designs, which were used on their own self-branded pieces, as well as sold to brands such as Jacques Monnat, Dugena, Haste, Jacquet Droz, Fortis, Aquadive, and Philip Watch, among others. These early professional-grade divers were all marketed with the "Caribbean" name, signifying their aquatic pedigree. The designer of these pieces contributed his knowledge and technical know-how to the development of the earliest DOXA Sub Series divers, forming a connection with the brand early on. Clearly there was a sharing of design elements, evidenced by the DOXA-like dials with spartan designs, large luminescent plots, and text scripts. While there were a variety of case styles and dial configurations produced under the Caribbean name, they all followed a fairly simple formula: tough, professional grade watches with brilliantly colorful (and totally 70s) designs. Decades later, Jenny purchased the DOXA brand and owns them to this day, bringing the relationship full circle and making their vintage divers an honorary part of the DOXA story we so love to tell.
The watch you are looking at currently is a Caribbean 1500 with Hi-Swing (high beat) movement by Philip Watch. The brand is owned by an Italian firm that has been based outside of Milan since 1858. With a large barrel-shaped case with hidden lugs and a supremely cool rotating acrylic outer bezel, it's easy to see that this piece's roots are anchored in classic dive watch lineages. Originally water resistant to 1000 Meters, this piece features a dial fashioned in the traditional DOXA style, but finished with a glittery reflective coating called Scotchlite that literally sparkles under direct light. This particular example is in fantastic original condition, with only light signs of wear from age. Our best guess is that this beauty never went beneath the waves!
Despite its massive 43mm size and noticeable heft, this piece wears brilliantly on the wrist, pairing well with fine leather and colorful nylon straps alike. If supremely rare, super cool vintage divers check the same boxes for you that they do for us, you know what to do.
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.