You probably noticed that the HODINKEE Shop started offering vintage watches last Tuesday. What does this mean for this column? Well, nothing really. Bring A Loupe is still alive and kicking; each week, you can expect to find the coolest watches from all over the world. And this week, BAL will include a dressy Rolex with Tiffany dial, a B series Royal Oak, and a Bovet Mono-Rattrapante. There is also a great selection of chronographs, from a tropical Wakmann to an early Zenith El Primero. This is your Bring A Loupe for March 11, 2016.
An Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Reference 5402 B Series With Original Papers
Launching the Royal Oak was definitely a bold move from AP in 1972, as this sporty looking watch in stainless steel cost more than a dressy Patek in gold at the time. Moreover, it relied on a slim and beautifully finished automatic movement in an era where quartz movements were already starting to become more common. The initial controversies faded away, and time confirmed the genius design of Gerald Genta. Among vintage Royal Oaks, the very early ones have particularly soared in value, and there is an easy way to recognize them: the AP logo is placed at 6 o’clock, while it was later raised to 12 o’clock. The reference 5402 here might not be the grail A series, but the B series offers you the same distinctive feature on the dial. And here you get something extremely cool on the side: the original 1977 warranty, something you practically never see! You will also note a bit of patina on the upper part of the dial, but for early production models, slight aging is to be expected.
A private collector is offering his Royal Oak – accompanied by its original warranty – here.
A Rolex Oyster Perpetual Reference 1012 With Tiffany Signature And Underline Dial
When I initially spotted this watch on Instagram one month ago, I got really excited, but it was sold before I could even mention it to you. So, I was extremely happy to see it re-surface, and now I will try to explain my infatuation. The 1012 reference is a bit of an anomaly in Rolex production from the 1960s, one of the rare models with a 36 mm Oyster case in a precious metal, and no date. Those characteristics make the 1012 a beautiful crossover between sporty and dressy. This is indeed a sweet watch on paper, but this example belongs to another league – its dial will tell you that. You likely noticed the coveted “Tiffany” name, and that’s not its only asset. There’s another quirky detail that makes the watch even more special: the underline below the chronometer certification. The prevailing theory is that this slim line actually indicates the change from radium to tritium in the early 1960s, when the radiation hazards of radium were acknowledged, and its use for watch dials discontinued.
The New York dealer Vesper & Co is offering this extremely rare Rolex dress watch here.
A Zenith El Primero Reference A3817 – For The Love Of Tricolor Dial
A recent Week On The Wrist introduced you to this atypical chronograph, often in the shadow of the mythical reference A386. Yet, there is a lot to like in the El Primero reference A3817, from the original El Primero 3019PHC movement to the characteristic dial with oversized sub-dials. One cannot stress enough the technical revolution that Zenith brought with the El Primero movement in 1969: the manufacture did not only achieve one of the first automatic chronograph calibers, it was also the first fast-beat, full rotor, fully integrated automatic chronograph. And this innovation was matched dial-side with an attractive mix of colors, emphasizing the chronograph function. Here, the tonneau case shows clear sign of previous polishing, but this is to be expected in a watch going back to almost a half century. Note that it comes with a replacement crown.
This El Primero A3817 was just listed on eBay here; at the time of publishing bidding had just started at $4,000.
A Wittnauer Professional Chronograph Reference 242T – A Chronograph That Almost Made It To Space
In the 1960s, NASA reviewed this Wittnauer for use in space, alongside the Rolex Daytona and the Omega Speedmaster. While you know who ultimately won the contest, the reference 242T deserves some attention nonetheless. Its utilitarian destiny is obvious in its large 38 mm case and very legible black dial. The dial is pretty unique with the oversized lume dots, echoing the lollipop second hand found in many Wittnauer chronographs. Note that unfortunately some lume dots here seem in worse shape than others. Bonus point: the reliable Valjoux 72 movement powers this chrono flawlessly, exactly like it does for the Rolex Daytona of the same era.
You can find the Wittnauer on eBay here, with bidding still around $2,500.
A Bovet Chronograph – More Than Just A Poor Man’s Rattrapante
This chronograph looks extremely good with a beautiful dial, blued hands, and a sharp 36 mm case. Is that all? Not really, as this is actually not a plain chronograph, rather a “Mono-Rattrapante,” as you can read on the dial. This word describes a pretty neat function that allows you to track intermediary times – a simplified split second if you will. Indeed, the split second allows the timing of two separate events through the two central chronograph hands running independently. The mono-rattrapante offered a pretty inventive way to read the results of a first event, with the capacity of temporarily stopping the running second hand by holding the lower pusher. When this pusher is released the chronograph hand will instantly jump to catch up the elapsed time and keep its course. Obviously, this “simple” yet highly practical chronograph built Bovet’s reputation through the 1940s.
A Wakmann Chronograph With Tropical Dial
I chose this last chronograph of the day because I fell for its dial. It is an outstanding example of a tropical dial, with a lovely brownish coloration. The contrast of this patina with the aged lume numerals is especially attractive. Speaking of lume, the hands have been noticeably re-lumed – you can see that in the shade difference between the numerals and the hands. The seller disclosed this “surgical” intervention, and in this case I tend to agree than re-lumed hands look better than empty hands. Lastly, you should expect a Lemania movement in this 35 mm case would probably look bigger on your wrist than you might think, thanks to its narrow bezel.
The dealer Menta Watches is offering this tropical Wakmann here.