This week is dedicated to the new releases of Baselworld, but never fear, Bring A Loupe is here for your weekly dose of some of the most interesting vintage watches out there. This week, we will focus on chronographs, starting with a sumptuous Universal Geneve from the mid 1940s. We will also feature a couple of surprising dive watches, from an obscure Lip to a famous modern Blancpain Aqua Lung. Finally, you will find one Tudor Monte Carlo that you should not bid on. This is your Bring A Loupe for March 18, 2016.
A Breitling Top Time Reference 7656 – A Large Reverse Panda
Breitling introduced the Top Time line in the mid-1960s to appeal to a younger market; as a result those watches featured more playful dials than their tool-watch counterparts, including the Navitimer. This Top Time reference 7656 offers the same great reverse panda dial that can be found throughout the Top Time range. A late edition, it comes in a rare 42 mm case, versus 38 mm for the earlier edition. This size increase allows for an additional 12-hour bezel that can be used to track a second time zone. Despite the imperfect pictures of the eBay listing, the watch here appears in a great condition, with a sharp case and a stunning dial.
At the time of publishing, bidding on eBay was just over $5,000 here.
A Universal Geneve Compax Reference 12324 – An Outstanding Case In Rose Gold
This is Universal Geneve at its best, a sublimely elegant chronograph in rose gold from the 1940s. You can actually find a similar example in the reference book by Pietro Sala, except the one here features a much rarer pulsation scale. The case is absolutely astonishing, with unusual faceted lugs. Its reference number, 12324, gives a shorthand description of the watch: the first digit 1 stands for a case in gold, the second digit describes a chronograph while the third indicates that this case houses a caliber 283. And the last two digits refer to this incredible case design. I don’t think much else can be said about this incredible looking vintage watch; its a piece of horological art that really speaks for itself.
The Italian dealer Casowatches is offering this stunning UG here.
An Enicar Sherpa Graph Reference 072-02-01 With Valjoux 72
Vintage Enicar chronographs are really hot right now, achieving increasing prices, and this late Sherpa Graph shows why. It exhibits exactly what collectors like about Enicar: a cool look and a very wearable 40 mm case with interesting lugs. The orange touches stand out well on the dial, especially the long chronograph seconds hand. And of course, this chono offers the well known Valjoux 72 – by now you probably know all about this work-horse movement. Note here that the patina seems a bit uneven between the different indexes, but it remains nonetheless a very attractive piece.
An Enicar collector is selling his Sherpa Graph on Instagram here.
A Lip Nautic-Ski Reference 42612, The French Diver With A Super Compressor Case
You probably think calling a dive watch the “Nautic-Ski” is quite odd. The name stems from the passion that the CEO of the French company Lip had for skiing. This watch was launched in 1967 for the 100th anniversary of the company, and was a marvel of engineering at the time, with an electro-mechanical movement and 200 m water resistance. The latter was actually achieved through an exclusive case offered by Piquerez, which held the patent for the super compressor principle (the use of water pressure on the gasket to seal the case). The Nautic Ski was offered in several colors after the suggestion of a French fashion designer, with dials in grey, orange, violet, blue, and, among the rarest examples, green with those unusual Arabic numerals. I would have expected the handset to be in its characteristic arrow shape, although the baton hands are also possible for this model from Lip, and the patinated lume here seems to indicate they were mounted on the watch from the start.
You can find this uncommon diver on eBay here; at the time of publishing bidding was still below $900.
A Blancpain Grande Date Aqua Lung Reference 2850B – A Dressy Diver
This Blancpain Aqua Lung is obviously not a vintage watch, as it was launched as a 2,005-piece limited edition in the late 2000s. As the seller notes, this 40vmm reference is famous for being among Vladimir Putin’s favorite pieces, as we had covered here. It might also be one of the very rare crossovers between a dive watch and a dress watch, with a sporty dial but a more elegant case – and still waterproof to 100M and ready to take a dive with its rubber strap (though of course the absence of a timing bezel means that, strictly speaking, this can’t be called a dive watch). Its automatic caliber 6950 offers a large date in line with the extreme legibility of the watch; the two disks change instantaneously at midnight, a prompt move that requires a lot of energy from the movement. Interestingly, here the seller also focuses on the hand finishing of the movement, a feature quite unexpected in a sporty watch.
You can find this Aqua Lung listed on a Singaporean forum for S$6,600 (or around $4,850) here; it comes with the original box and recent service papers. Only thing, as mentioned in the listing: the original full hands were replaced by some skeleton hands from Blancpain; this is probably a reversible operation.
Bidder Beware – Another Fake Tudor Monte Carlo, This Time A Fraudulent Reference 7032
Let’s quickly spot three things that will unmask this fake Tudor. First, the hands are too short: the minute hand should not stop before the track, but slightly overlap it; ditto for the hour hand – the chronograph hands do not even exhibit the correct shape. Secondly, the indexes around the sub-dials should blend into them, and not be placed entirely outside of them. Lastly, the font of “Tudor” is incorrect, the last letter R shows you that – it should end with a curve instead of a straight line. This dial commits many other offenses – the placement of the 5 minute intervals in comparison to the indexes is one example, but at this stage there is no more doubt that you should stay clear of this Tudor listed on eBay here. Trust me, even the current price is far from a good price for this one. One question remains: did it come from the same source as the other very fake Tudor we reviewed here, a fake of another reference that shares many similar flaws?