This Bring A Loupe looks at unusual watches, all with a twist that makes them collectible in their own right. We start strong with a rare military Omega, and a minty Rolex GMT-Master retailed by Tiffany. Chronograph love is there this week as well, with an undervalued Minerva and an unexpected Universal Geneve Aero-Compax. And you’ll discover a couple of defunct brands, including the ephemeral Takano and the budget-friendly Clebar. This is your Bring A Loupe for February 26, 2016.
An Omega Military Reference CK 2777 With Original Thin Arrow Dial
You might remember this super rare military Omega from our visit to Omega’s museum collection, here. The Reference CK 2777 represents a crucial step for Omega: a 37mm antimagnetic watch to answer a special order from the British Minister of Defense for the Air Force, in 1952. This reference fights magnetism with a thicker dial and inner soft iron cage, exactly like the first Railmaster CK2914 launched in 1957. This watch bears all the signs of its military purpose: regulation thin arrow on the dial, fixed metal strap bars, and military engravings on the case back. It is incredibly rare to find the CK2777 in this condition, most of the 5,900 watches ordered were called back to have the radium dial switched to tritium. This change is not only noticeable through the circled T applied on the dial, but the repainting of the dial and indexes was hastily done, which explains the Tipp-Ex nicknname of those unfortunate examples.
You can find this beautifully preserved, all original military Omega here.
A Rolex GMT Reference 1675, With Tiffany Dial
The single word “Tiffany” bumps the value of any vintage Rolex or Patek, this prestigious retailer being a long standing account for both manufactures. The double naming with Rolex stopped in the 1990s, well after this GMT-Master was retailed and sold in 1977. It is actually a late reference 1675, a couple of years before the model was replaced with the reference 16750, which added a quickset date but retained the sweet proportions of the original. Beyond the Tiffany connection, this GMT’s condition makes it very special: you get a fat case, all original parts, a tight bracelet, and a great patina, on the lighter side. Could we ask for more? Certainly, Tiffany stamped papers would have crushed it, but alas those have not made it through the past 40 years.
This rare GMT is offered for $25,000 here, and you should have a look at the fat lugs and sharp chamfers.
A Universal Geneve Aero-Compax Reference 22704/3 – A Transitional Version
This was probably not the chronograph from Universal Geneve that you were expecting as the Aero-compax is not currently among the most coveted models of this brand. Hell, this one does not even look like an Aero-compax, neither featuring the 4 sub-registers of the first references, nor the external bezel from the later ones in the 1960s. However, there is nothing fishy here, you are just looking at the reference 22704/3, also classified as an Aero Compax Type B. However you call it, this chrono has a lot to root for: a great 38mm case, a beautiful blued handset, and unusual numerals on the dial. Granted, the movement is not in-house, it is nonetheless the famous Valjoux 72 that you can also find in the vintage Rolex Daytona. This watch even comes with a Universal Geneve bracelet, and a blue Nato for a stealthier look.
You can find this early Aero-Compax offered for 7,500 Euros or around $8,300 here. The dealer MentaWatches is also offering a later version – the reference 890101/01 with 41mm case and the 24-hour bezel – for $9,500 here.
A Minerva Chronograph Reference 1335 With An Enigmatic Dial
The title of this eBay listing is somewhat misleading; this Minerva is not a split second (rattrapante) but “simply” a very nice chronograph. It is indeed the same reference 1335 that we had covered a couple of months ago. So its case does not boast a 40mm diameter as indicated; 35mm is the right figure if you exclude the crown, yet it looks very much in proportion with the 18mm lug width. I have actually never seen a comparable dial before; it is puzzling to me but does not look re-dialed or tampered with. I am of course talking about the large blue base 100 scale, but also about the single Minerva line, I was expecting at least a “Shock-Absorber” mention. Is a the sign of a very early production? Frankly I don’t have the answer here. Besides this point, you will get an excellent chronograph movement, the renowned 13-20CH column-wheel movement, which was recently serviced – for an increased peace of mind on your side.
You can find this Minerva on eBay here, at the time of publishing bidding had just reached $560.
A Clebar Chronograph With Reverse Panda Dial
With the surge in prices for vintage Heuer, the so-called Poor-Man’s Heuer has become increasingly coveted, and this Clebar is no exception. Here, the reverse panda dial does the talking: you can get a look similar to the Carrera for a fraction of the price, without the characteristic down-turned lugs of course. On the wrist, the 36mm case would look great, and the cheaper Landeron 248 movement is likely to give you full satisfaction anyway; note that its bridge bears the US import engravings that it shared with Zodiac. In short, you have here a great looking watch, especially if you are not a French speaking collector – Clebar meaning bad dog in French slang, an interesting choice for a brand’s name.
At the time of publishing, bidding was below $350 on eBay here.
A Takano Precision With Spectacular Dial
It would not be surprising that you never heard of Takano, a defunct Japanese watch brand that produced wristwatch during 5 short years, until going out of business in1962. They first tried to compete with the giants Seiko and Citizen wtih an in-house movement, but soon had to turn to Lanco ebauches, you can find more info about their adventures here. I chose this watch for a single reason: its dial! The mirror finish looks outstanding around the minute track, and I can guarantee that you will never see this fine dress watch anywhere else.
A Japanese dealer listed this gorgeous Takano for 58,000 Yen or around $520 here.
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