This week is dedicated to oddities, to the watches you rarely hear about. The ones we’ve found for this week range from a rare replica Rolex with a quartz caliber Beta 21, to a Movado chronograph, with an unusual method of operation. You will also find a great Breitling Co-Pilot with a colorful yachting bezel, as well as a stunning Longines Conquest with an unusual power reserve complication. This is your Bring A Loupe for February 3, 2017.
Movado Chronograph M95, With In-House Caliber
Movado was at one time renowned for its in-house calibers, chronograph movements included. In that regard, its calibers M90 (two-register) and M95 (three-register) offered an interesting peculiarity : the bottom pusher starting and stopping the complication, while the reset pusher is placed up top. This is the exact opposite of how a chronograph wristwatch usually works, so it takes some time to get used to it, but it does not feel less efficient in the long run. The highlights don’t stop with the movement, since the waterproof cases of those chronographs were manufactured by the famous supplier Francois Borgel (later Taubert Frères), also known for its contribution to the first water-resistant Patek Philippe chronograph, the reference 1463.
The chronograph here does not feature the characteristic “snake hands” usually found on the M95 chronograph, but the red handset is also correct for this reference. The Borgel case is astoundingly sharp, the lugs have kept their original shape, and the 5866 serial number is deeply engraved (and matches the numbers on the caseback, as it should). The dial shows some light aging towards its center, but the painted numerals remain intact and are very pleasantly balanced with the 3 sub-registers, which are well sized for the 35mm diameter of the case. Lastly, the large winding crown is original to the watch, and completes the look of what was engineered as a true tool watch.
Rolex Reference 5100, With Beta 21 Movement
This reference 5100 does not look like your usual Rolex, either inside or out. Its chunky case with integrated bracelet is definitely reminiscent of its introduction in 1970 for a short two-year production. The thick and oddly shaped 39mm case can be explained by another factor: the Beta-21 caliber that it houses, the very first Swiss quartz movement. Beta 21 was developed by a conglomerate of manufactures including Rolex (obviously), but also Omega, IWC and Patek Philippe. It also showcases how modern the reference 5100 was, being the very first Rolex to offer a sapphire crystal and a quickset date. This Rolex came with another unusual feature: it was made in a limited run of 1,000 pieces, an almost unique practice in Rolex history. You can imagine that the price tag for the most modern cheap fake Rolex watches UK of the time was astronomical, and it included a free trip to the headquarters of Rolex in Geneva, and inclusion in the Golden Register (no kidding, this was the name of the booklet compiling the name of the 1,000 lucky owners).
This yellow gold 5100 comes with an even rarer feature: a dial bearing the arms of the Sultan of Oman. It is estimated that between 5 and 10 reference 5100 were specially ordered (in either 18k white and yellow gold), and the seller indicates that they all fall in the range 390 to 400 (I wonder if the present watch is the number 396 that was seen at a previous auction). The gold hallmarks and the engravings are sharp on the watch, and the bracelet does not seems excessively stretched.
Breitling Co-Pilot Reference 7650 With Yachting Bezel
The nautical purpose of this Breitling is instantly clear, with the regatta countdown placed on the bezel, and in the minutes sub-register. Reference 7650 was not the first yachting watch made by Breitling, which had already made the previous iteration, the AVI reference 765, in such a configuration, although the Co-Pilot comes with a bigger 43mm case (vs. 41mm for the AVI), and a redesigned black bezel for the 15-minute countdown. Both chronographs took advantage of the modified Venus 178, with the chronograph minute counter offering a 15-minute layout, instead of the traditional 30-minute duration (note that the associated minute hand moves by increments of 30 seconds, so it still does 30 “jumps”).
The present example here offers a stunning dial, with the white sub-registers well preserved. The colorful handset is correct for this reference (and it is also not unexpected for a watch born at the end of the 1960s). The lume has taken on a greenish tint but again this is not unusual with vintage Breitlings from that era (notably the 2nd generation of the chronograph Breitling Superocean). The case itself is described as in outstanding condition (“nearly unworn” are the exact words), which also matches the near mint condition of the bezel.
This Breitling Co-Pilot Reference 7650 was just shown on Instagram, and is priced at $8,500.
Longines Conquest Power Reserve Reference 9035, With A Smart Central Rotating Disc
The date placement at 12 is unusual but works extremely well on the Longines references 9035 (a later execution of the reference 9032, with a different caseback). The caliber 294 that can be found on both references comes with an interesting power reserve indicator, shown on the central disc which rotates to indicate how many hours are left for the full rotor automatic movement. It’s not just practical; this disc looks stunning, offering an interesting visual counterpoint to the inner track and the applied indexes.
The watch here showcases a perfect dial, which really underlines how beautiful this watch was when produced in the early 1960s (the serial number on the included original papers and caseback would help provide a better idea of the actual date). The condition of the case is equally impressive, with sharp lugs and intact brushing on the caseback (while the earlier reference 9032 came with a green enamel painting of a fish). The crown looks signed, but its shape is different than what’s usually seen on the reference 9035, so it might not be original to the watch.
UPDATE: Longines collectors just brought to my attention that the central disc was actually not rotating and therefore this Longines did not benefit from the power reserve that the dealer advertises but rather a “simple” date complication, from the caliber 291 instead of the caliber 294. Logically, its reference number is not 9035 either, more likely the reference 9024, although the inside of the caseback would give more certainty.
Alpina Automatic, With A Dressy Case And Luminous Dial
This is a lot to like in this 35mm time-only watch, starting with its sharp case, with the characteristic screwback water-resistant caseback. The two tone dial seems free of imperfection, and the radium lume took a nice patina on both indexes and handset. The applied logo above the Alpina moniker offers a nice callback to the gold indexes, while the thick lugs and sharp engravings on the back really give credibility to the NOS condition advertised by the seller. As mentioned on the dial, this watch is powered by an automatic movement; the Alpina caliber 584 has a bumper mechanism which explains the spring you can see in the picture below. Lastly, the signed crown might seem a minor detail, but it shows this part is original, and further underlines how the Alpina branding was nicely scattered through the design (it might even originally have come with a signed tang buckle, but not included here).