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Omega Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016_522.

Omega Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 unveiled

The new Omega Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 is the latest Omega Olympic commemorative watch. The Omega Olympic tradition started with the 1956 Melboune Olympic Seamaster XVI and was followed by a mechanical Quartz Seamaster for the 1972 Munich Olympic games.
Each Olympics since has brought a special edition watch and for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Omega has chosen its re-edition of the 1969 Omega Speedmaster MK2 chronograph. The Rio 2016 Speedmaster MK2 comes with a unique dial reflects the achievements of the athletes that will take their place on the podium.
According to Omega, the chronograph “sub-dials are decorated with a bronze ring, 18K yellow gold ring and 925 silver ring respectively – a design that recalls the medals awarded to Olympic champions.” Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 _dial_522.
The Omega Speedmaster Mark II will be produced as a limited edition of 2,016 pieces. Sources at Omega reveal that the watch will not be available in Canada till late next year and will retail for $6,500 Cdn.
Here is the official press release detailing the features and history of the watch;

Each Olympic Games is marked by excitement and a captivating spirit; spectators from around the world are inspired by the golden moments they witness and citizens of each nation are united as they cheer for their favourite Olympic athletes.

The Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 is a tribute to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the chronograph’s unique dial evokes the feelings of glory and triumph that those very same athletes will experience when they take their place on the podium.

Inspired by the 1969 model of the original OMEGA Speedmaster Mark II, the polished and brushed stainless steel case is barrel-shaped and has a polished crown and pushers. Beneath a flat scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is a matt black dial featuring a 30-minute recorder at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour recorder at 6 o’clock and a small seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock. The sub-dials are decorated with a bronze ring, 18K yellow gold ring and 925 silver ring respectively – a design that recalls the medals awarded to Olympic champions.

The transparent tachymeter scale on the sapphire crystal is illuminated from beneath by an aluminium ring filled with Super-LumiNova. The varnished white and black hour and minute hands, chronograph seconds hand and hour markers are also coated with Super-LumiNova, making it possible to read the time in a variety of lighting conditions. The Speedmaster Mark II is the first watch in OMEGA’s collection that makes it possible for the wearer to see the tachymeter scale in the dark.
Omega Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 _caseback_522.
The screw-in caseback is stamped with the logo of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and is engraved with “Si14”, “Column Wheel” and the limited edition number of the wristwatch – only 2,016 pieces of this model will be produced.

The polished and brushed stainless steel bracelet is complete with OMEGA’s patented screw-and-pin design and a foldover rack-and-pusher clasp. The length of the bracelet can be adjusted by releasing the outer clasp and sliding the inner clasp.

The Speedmaster Mark II “Rio 2016” is powered by the OMEGA calibre 3330 equipped with an Si14 silicon balance spring and a Co-Axial escapement with three levels. The reliability delivered with the combination of these exclusive components is such that your timepiece is offered with a full four-year warranty.

The Speedmaster Mark II “Rio 2016” is water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres / 330 feet) and is offered in a special presentation box with a certificate of authenticity.

OMEGA and the Olympic Games

OMEGA will serve as Official Timekeeper for its 27th Olympic Games when the incredible sporting spectacle makes its way to South America for the first time. The brand looks forward to offering its timekeeping and data-handling services to each participating athlete at the Games and is proud to measure, record and display the medal-winning results that will make Olympic history in Rio in 2016.

Moonwatch presentation box contents

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Presentation Box

Omega Speedmaster Professional moonwatches are getting a makeover of sorts. Starting in mid-July 2014, select models of the Omega Speedmaster Professional chronograph will begin shipping with a special presentation box containing a treasure trove of unique accessories.Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch presentation box
The legendary Speedmaster Moonwatch is perhaps one of the most iconic wrist watches of all time having been the first watch worn on the moon and the first watch to be NASA flight qualified for all manned missions.
The new presentation box will be covered in a dark fabric with metal fastening clasps. The real bonanza hides within. Along with the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, the box will contain a number of previously unavailable and optional items.
Besides the fitted leather strap or stainless steel bracelet, the Omega Speedmaster Professional chronograph now ships with a black polyamide “NATO” strap and a black Velcro strap inspired by the one astronauts wear in space. An Omega branded tool to remove the bracelet or straps is included, along with an instructional booklet explaining how to perform the switch.
An Omega branded eye loupe with the Speedmaster Tachymetric bezel circling the opening is also included, along with a metal disc exhibiting the famed Seahorse Hippocampus found on the original Speedmaster watches produced in the 1950s and 1960s.Moonwatch presentation box contents
To complete the package, Omega has bundled in a book chronicling the historical adventures of the famed Omega Speedmaster.
Interestingly, Omega will be changing the reference numbers of the Omega Speedmaster Professionals when the new packaging begins shipping. The ref 3570.5000 will now become 311., 3573.5000 becomes 311., 3870.5031 changes to 311. and 3873.5031 lives on as 311.
In a nod to current Omega Speedmaster Professional owners and just general fans of Omega or anyone wanting all this cool swag, Omega will also be selling the presentation box as a standalone item. Pricing for the box, its reference number 9410.63.14 in Canada, with be about $720 at Omega boutiques across the country.
You can read more about the history of the Omega Speedmaster or try and track down the now long-discontinued book “A Time Capsule” about the Speedmaster written by Kesaharu Imai.

Vintage Omegs Speedmaster

History of the Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch

The history of the Omega Speedmaster begins in 1943 when Omega launched the movement “27 CHRO C12”; CHRO for Chronograph, 27 for the movements diameter in mm and C12 for the 12-hour totalizer. The movement was designed by Albert Piguet. From 1946 it was available with a shock protection system and antimagnetic balance spring. Omega’s name for the “27 CHRO C12” was “321”. The movement was available in a number of cases ranging from 32,5 to 37,5 mm. The case for the Speedmaster was designed by Claude Baillod and in January 1959 Lemania started production. In 1958 began the sales of what was to be THE most well known chronograph. In 1960 the bezel was replaced with a black one, the hands were changed from arrow shaped to “dauphine” and the case diameter grew from 39 to 40 mm. 1965 began the work of designing a new movement and in August 1968 began the assembly of the first “861- calibre” movements. The new movement meant increased frequency from 18,000 (2,5Hz) to 21,600 (3Hz) vibrations per hour. By now the Speedmaster was well into the space program and in April 1966 the addition “Professional” was made to the dial of the Speedmaster to commemorate the debut in space.

The Speedmaster in space
In 1964 NASA sent two employes out to “incognito” purchase five reputable chronographs to be tested for possible use in space. The Mercury program was almost complete and the coming Gemini program with scheduled “space-walks” would require a watch that could withstand the extreme conditions in space. After the first round of tests two of thw five brands were disqualified and after the second round there was only one left… On September 29 1964 NASA ordered twelve Speedmasters from the US Omega importer. They paid retail price, $ 82.50 for the watches and wanted them delivered by October 21. Meanwhile NASA arranged for a series of test to finally determine what watch to use in space. The watches had to cope with:
High temperature: 48 hours at 71º C followed by 30 minutes at 93º C. This under a pressure of 0,35atm and relative humidity not over 15%.
Low temperature: Four hours at -18º C.
Temperature-pressure: 0,000001atm and temperature raised to 71º C. Temperature then lowered to -18º C in 45 minutes and again raised to 71º C in 45 minutes. This cycle was repeated fifteen times.
Relative humidity: 240 hours in relative humidity of at least 95% and at temperatures varying between 20º C and 71º C. The steam had a pH value of between 6,5 and 7,5.
Oxygen atmosphere: Exposure to 100% oxygen atmosphere at a pressure of 0,35atm and a temperature of 71º C for 48 hours.
Shock: Six 11 millisecond shocks of 40g each in six different directions.
Acceleration: Linear acceleration from 1g to 7,25g within 333 seconds.
Decompression: 90 minutes in a vacuum of 0,000001atm and a temperature of 71º C and 30 minutes in the same vacuum but at a temperature of 93ºC.
High pressure: Exposure to 1,6atm for one hour.
Vibration: Three cycles of 30 minutes (lateral, horizontal and vertical), the frequency varying from 5 to 2000cps and back to 5cps in 15 minutes. Average acceleration per impulse 8,8g.
Acoustic noise: 130db over a frequency range from 40 to 10000Hz for 30 minutes.
The tests were completed on March 1, 1965. Three chronographs from different manufacturers were still running, but only the Speedmaster had passed without any of the serious troubles that had occurred with the two others (twisted hands, warped crystals…). NASA stated: “Operational and environmental tests ot the three selected chronographs have been completed, and, as a result of the test, Omega chronographs have been calibrated and issued to three members of the GT-3 crews.” The “GT-3” (Gemini-Titan III) took of 04.52 March 23, 1964 with the astronauts John Young and Virgil Grissom on board. On the next Gemini flight (IV) Edward White left the capsule and became the first American to walk in space. On his wrist was the Speedmaster.
Omega became aware of the Speedmaster being used in space as late as April 1966. The advertising of the Speedmaster changed to “space-watch” and Omega added the word Professional to the dial of the Speedmaster. The biggest moment came when Neil Armstrong on July 21 at 02.56 GMT set foot on the moon. Once again the Speedmaster was a part of history. In fact Armstrong wore Edwin Aldrin’s watch because he had left his own back in the capsule with Michael Collins. During the dramatic flight of Apollo XIII the Speedmaster helped the commander James Lovell to time the firing of the secondary rockets that would take the ship out of lunar orbit and back to earth. For this Omega was awarded the “Snoopy award” by the astronauts. When the americans met the soviets in space in the Apollo-Soyuz “rendez-vouz”, both crews were equipped with Speedmasters. In September 1978 NASA arranged a new series of tests to establish what watch to use for the upcoming Space Shuttle missions and the Speedmaster was again the only watch that that stood up to the test.


1956 Omega Seamaster XVI

Omega Olympic watches, a look back in time

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are in full swing at present. What better time to reflect on Omega’s historical involvement with the Olympic games. Omega first became the official time keeper of the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. Omega has been the official Olympic timer ever since with the exception of two summer and 3 winter Olympic games, which were timed by Seiko.
Rather than dwell on the actual equipment used in the Olympics to time athletes lets look at some of the watches introduced to commemorate the Games. Lets look at the period from 1956 to 1979.
The first wrist watch produced by Omega in Olympic honour was the 1956 Omega Seamaster XVI. This watch the reference 2850 was made in solid 18 karat gold and was fitted with an Omega automatic calibre 471 movement. There appear to be two versions of the 1956 Omega Seamaster XVI. One example has a dial printed with the Olympic rings and the Cross of Merit printed on it. Other watches the gold metal Roman Numerals XVI on the lower half. These were the 16th modern Olympic games. One story circulating alleges that Omega ran into some trademark issue with their use of the Olympic logo on the dial. Reportedly some of the watches were recalled and had the dials swapped. The painted logos were replaced with the metal Roman numeral version. The rear of the watch had the Olympic Cross of Distinction in raised relief in the centre of it. The Roman numerals for 16, XVI, were engraved at the top. The backs on both examples are the same. Original examples are quite valuable.
The next model to honour the Games was the 1976 Omega ChronoQuartz.Omega ChronoQuartz 1976 Olympics This large watch featured a combination LCD digital/analogue display in a rectangular format. The design appeared to mimic a score board and was even referenced as such on the Omega literature. At this point during the 1970’s quartz watches were the leading edge of technology and the ultimate expression of Omega’s technical prowess. The watch was fitted with an Omega quartz calibre 1611 which required 2 batteries to power the multiple displays. This advanced model was able to measure time down to 100ths of a second and keep track of different lap and split times. The code name Albatross was given to the model by its developers given the wide clamp used inside the watch to secure the batteries. This model also carried the Olympic Cross of Distinction on the caseback but instead of the Olympic logo, the iconic Seamaster (seamonster) logo accompanied it.
One model that was not introduced by Omega as a commemorative model but rather as a functional Olympic event timer for the Games was the 1968 Omega Seamaster Chronostop . This stopwatch/chronograph watch was given to timers to use at the 1968 Mexico City games. Being that it was a functional piece and not a consumer commemorative product, there are no units embossed with Olympic logos or Crosses.

Seiko Sportura

Why Seiko should matter to you

I posted a picture recently to my Facebook page of a Seiko Sportura SQL007 -an alien-looking chronograph that looks like a lump of molten metal with four separate dials covered by four separate crystals and powered by a hybrid quartz/mechanical movement. 
It charges up with the movement of your wrist, displays the time just like any $50 battery-powered plastic piece. But the chronograph is fully mechanical, capable of measuring time to 1/10th of a second when most mechanical chronos can only manage 1/8th – and when you activate it, one of those four dials, dedicated to fractions, spins like a top. It’s an amazing thing, well worth, I felt, the asking price of about $2,500 almost 10 years ago – but my watch-snob friends were unimpressed. Some called it aesthetically challenged, which I suppose is fair enough (to each their own); but most of the commentary basically amounted to, “why would anyone spend so much on a Japanese watch?” Well, why not? By any traditional measure of the watch-snob’s lexicon, Seiko belongs right up there with the big boys. Us geeks get all wound up about the idea of “manufacture” movements, developed, blueprinted, machined and produced entirely in-house by the fancy-schmancy Swiss watchmakers. IWC’s “regular” pilot’s chrono retails for about $7,000, with a movement based on the robust, but ubiquitous, Valjoux 7750. Upgrading to the “in-house” version, with the hour and minute indicators on one subdial, requires at least an extra $3,000. TAG Heuer, Omega, Breitling, and any other mainstream luxury-watch brand you care to name (the exception being Rolex) do most of their volume with nicely-finished versions of ETA movements also found in things as lowly as Swiss Army or even Swatch. Yet even the cheapest Seiko – and we’re talking sub-$500 here – features totally in-house mechanicals, and those mechanicals are even more in-house than most Swiss brands. Seiko doesn’t only make all the metal bits in the movements; they also make the lubricants, the cases, the bracelets, the dials – stuff that even the big-name brands often buy in from specialist manufacturers scattered around Switzerland. Because of the company’s huge sales, and thus their massive economies of scale, impressive technical innovations (the magic lever winding system, Kinetic electro-mech movements) can be had by the masses, often at incredibly reasonable prices. Speaking of which, while many brands continue to refine and decorate concepts that were introduced literally centuries ago, Seiko’s always been on the cutting edge. If you’re enough of a chrono geek, you have no doubt read about the race between Heuer/Breitling/etc. and Zenith to produce the world’s first self-winding mechanical chronograph in 1969; most of those accounts forget to mention that Seiko was in the race too, having brought its 6139 movement to market the same year (and in a number of uniquely-shaped cases adorned with colourful dials that made them way more fun). Seiko was, of course, one of the brands responsible for developing the quartz movements that almost killed the Swiss industry; more recently, they’ve been combining batteries and mechanics in clever and interesting ways, with their Kinetic and Spring Drive movements. The latter features a second hand which glides seamlessly along, with no ticking sound, no stop-start jerkiness – a true representation of the passage of time. Because of their huge volume and mass-market appeal, Seiko’s also been more adventurous with its designs than the stick-in-the-mud Swiss and Germans.
Seiko Orange Monster While there are certainly models in their lineup that shamelessly (a little too much so) ape designs familiar from other manufacturers, the company’s also been responsible for its share of iconic watch designs. The “tuna can” diver’s watch remains one of the most distinctive tool watches in history; the “monster,” its modern contemporary, has a butch, aggressive design totally unlike the more refined European waterborne pieces. More recently, the Arctura and Sportura chronographs have found unique and interesting ways to combine the time of day and the elapsed chronograph time, and the company continues to build small-volume mechanical models with amazingly different case and dial designs. And what unites them all has been, if not the sharpest edges or the finest brushed finish, a certain tough, unburstable quality that suggest they can take a beating. I wore a Seiko5 automatic through most of high school; it literally never left my wrist for years, living through showers, shocks, scratches and the kind of abuse only a teenager could dish out. By the end of it, the mineral crystal was scratched all to hell, the bracelet was a bit loose and one of the hour markers had fallen off. But it was still keeping good time. Upon learning that I’m into watches, people often ask me how many of them I have. My typical answer is “four – and a half-dozen Seikos.” But the fact that I’ve kept so many Seikos over the years suggests that I have as much affection for them as my Rolexes and Tags and IWCs. Just because Seikos aren’t expensive doesn’t make them any less cool or desirable.

Rolex Daytona Laurance Yap

The Allure of the Rolex Daytona

I first developed an interest in the Rolex Daytona long before I knew it was “important”.

Rolex Daytona 6263My dad’s always been a Rolex guy. He wore a 34mm Oyster Perpetual for almost thirty years before he brought it in for its first service sometime in the early nineties. When he came back – watch keeping good time again and looking like new, pockets full of free chocolate from the service centre’s reception area – he brought that year’s catalogue with him. Page after page of life-sized photos of the Rolex lineup of the time.

Since I was a kid, I’d always liked shiny, complicated things: planes, cars, hi-fi equipment, computers. Flipping through that brochure, the Daytona was, diamond-festooned jewelry pieces aside, the shiniest, most complicated Rolex in the book. And, therefore, the best. There wasn’t a lot of text in the brochure that I can remember – just some very basic specs about size, material, movement, all set in the Univers type that Rolex favoured at the time – so I spent a lot of time staring at the pictures. And, after a few hours, I decided that the best Daytona was actually the steel version. Shiny, yes, but functional and sporty-looking and full of stuff to play with: pushers that needed to be unscrewed, screw-down Oyster crown, chronograph. So much writing on the dial, too! I think I was fourteen at the time.Rolex Daytona 116520

My love of shiny, complex watches kind of waned through high school and university; in addition to not having the financial means to afford them, there were plenty of other distractions at the time. But always in the back of my mind was the Daytona. And when the watch bug bit me midway through my twenties, when I could finally afford something nice to strap to my wrist, the thought was always there: one day.

Around that time, friend of mine had introduced me to a couple of Web sites for watch geeks, and I was spending too much of my free time trawling for information on them. Turned out that I wasn’t the only one vaguely obsessed by the Daytona – the steel version in particular. Turns out that, despite being the cheapest of all the Daytona models (at the time, a new one would run just over $4,000), a steel version was a lot harder to get than the ubiquitous $25,000 gold version. Tentative visits to a few watch stores confirmed that: none of them had a steel Daytona to see or try on and none of them took me all that seriously when I asked if it would be possible to order one.

Which just about confirmed what I’d read online: whether it’s Rolex itself, or the dealers, supply of steel Daytonas is artificially limited – you’ll have a tough time buying one new unless you’ve got a good relationship with your jeweler. Finding one on the used market was certainly possible, but you’d likely be paying more than you’d pay for a new one. So in addition to being the shiniest, most complicated and best Rolex, the Daytona also seemed to be a rock-solid investment.

So what is it about the Daytona that makes it such a sought-after thing, beside just looking cool?

If you’re into cars and racing at all – and I always have been – it turns out that the Daytona is a big deal to racers and fans. Rolex has been sponsoring the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona forever. Winning drivers of the Daytona race get a steel (not a gold; that would be expensive!) Daytona with a special engraving on the back.

Want to know how talented, fast, consistent and reliable an endurance driver is? Find out how many steel Daytonas he has in his collection. I got to go to Porsche’s annual motorsport awards dinner recently; I’d never seen so many Daytonas in one room. The MC was even making fun of one of the night’s honourees because he only had ONE of them, when so many of the other guys on stage had three, four, five, even more. Suddenly, I was feeling a little self-conscious; my retail-purchased, un-engraved, un-earned 116250 didn’t feel quite so special anymore.

You’ve probably heard of the “Paul Newman” Daytona – a reference to a design that was a commercial flop back in the sixties, with contrasting subdials that featured larger, bolder numbers. There’s a lot of conflicting information about the connection to Newman out there; some say he wore one in the movie “Winning,” but you never see one on-screen. Others claim that his wife, Joanne Woodward, gave him one as a present before he started shooting the film, with an engraving telling him to be safe. Whatever the case, Newman Daytonas are rare, pricey, and crazily sought-after – the perfect match to your vintage European sports car and likely to be almost as expensive.

Like many watch-collecting trends, the obsession with Daytonas seems to have started with Italy, where style-conscious (and one imagines, car-loving) gents loved its combination of a classically-styled case, rugged functionality and some complicated functions to play with. Whether you’re talking about a modern 40 mm version on the brushed-and-polished steel bracelet, or an earlier 37 mm model with polished steel bezel, a Daytona’s big enough to be sporty and legible, but thin enough and elegant enough to tuck under the cuff of your dress shirt. It’s a terrifically versatile piece. A Daytona’s presence makes your $50 jeans and $20 T-shirt look like a million bucks and reminds people that you may be wearing a $2,500 suit, but where you really belong is at the racetrack, not the boardroom.

If you are a racing driver, you’re unlikely to be timing your laps these days using a mechanical chronograph, especially one with screw-down pushers and, at least on contemporary Daytonas, nearly-illegible sub-dials. For those of us that aren’t, the presence of a Daytona on our wrist is a tangible link to a world where speed, performance, endurance, accuracy and precision mean a lot. It’s also probably a reminder to ourselves of the kind of guy we’d like to be.



What are Tudor watches?

Tudor watch cases are similar to Rolex models and often are sold with Rolex’s famous Oyster case. During the period when both Rolex and Tudor used acrylic crystals, the Tudor and Rolex models would often share a similar depth rating.

Many Tudor models up to the 1990’s were sold with Rolex signed bracelets and crowns also.

The Tudor line can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the 20th Century. The earliest Tudor I have owned dated to the 1930’s and used a caliber 59 movement, also used in the Canadian market Rolex’s. Historically, evidence exists that shows the name as it applies to watches began in 1926. In 1936 Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex acquired the brand and waited for another decade before promoting the brand worldwide.

Over the years various models have been produced in an attempt to increase the brand’s market presence. The most popular model Tudor has produced is most likely the Submariner. Early models used a modified Fleurier 350 caliber, branded the Tudor 390 caliber. These are often mistaken as Rolex movements as they shared a similar rotor winding device.

During the mid to late 1960’s Rolex switched to another manufacturer, ETA to supply the base movements for their watches. These Early Submariners have become quite collectible. The increase in value has led to a large quantity of fakes penetrating the market. These are being produced in the Far East and are easily spotted upon close examination along with some investigation into what the real model should look like.
Tudor dial logos have also changed over the years. Initially there was just the word Tudor with the top bar of the letter T running across the top of the word Tudor. That was followed buy a small rose withing a shield. The unframed rose followed that and was joined by the short lived large Rose emblem. The current Tudor shield logo began around 1970.

Other popular models are the older Chronographs as well as the Ranger and Ranger 2 models, which rode the wave of market demand created by the Rolex Explorer 1, reference 1016. Both watches share a similar dial configuration.

So are these watches considered “real Rolex’s?” I would say NO! However Tudor watches have earned a place at the forefront of watch collection as they are a unique product that reflects on the history of the Rolex Watch Company. Actually in some cases particular models actually sell for more than some popular vintage Rolex models.

To those who complain about the Rolex modified movements and suggest it makes them less desirable, perhaps you need only examine the phenomena of the Rolex Daytona, which used a modified Ebauche movement up until 2002, I would suggest no one considers those watches less than acceptable Rolex’s.


Vintage Canadian Rolex Oyster Watches

The Canadian Rolex market Oyster watches date back to the late 1930’s and are some of the most affordable vintage Rolex watches available on the used watch market today.

They differ from Swiss marketed Rolex’s in that they used a Rolex modified ebauche movement made by Fontmelon, their caliber FF30 subsequently renamed the Rolex caliber 59. The movements were stamped Rolex Geneve on the top plate and were not engraved or stamped Rolex on the bridge. On some variations of the movement, the bridges were engraved with the name Oyster Watch Ltd.

The Rolex Canadian Oysters used a Rolex Oyster watch case with a Rolex Oyster Patent crown.

The various models marketed included names such as Oyster Centregraph, Oyster Lipton, Oyster Junior Sport, Oyster Raleigh, Oyster Commander, Oyster Recorda, Oyster Edison, Oyster Grenfell, Oyster Standard and Oyster Shipmate. These watches were most frequently sold in gold-filled and stainless steel Oyster cases.

These watches are frequently seen with 24-hour military dials and as such, many were given as gifts to soldiers departing for active service in Europe during World War 2. Many of the watches returning to Canada came back with the serviceman’s registration numbers engraved on the rear of the case back.

Another variation of the Canadian Oysters were Rolex models sold by the famous former Canadian icon department store Eatons. The watches were renamed, as Solar Aqua’s or King of Wing’s and the name Rolex or Oyster were never visible on the watch dials. Eatons also has a particular arrangement with Rolex which allowed them to provide as long service awards, a Rolex watch that only had the words:

1/4 C E N T U R Y C L U B

spelled out on the dial, which was simply signed Eaton’s. There was no mention of Rolex or Rolex Oyster on the dial’s of the Eaton’s 1/4 Century Rolex watches. Some of these watches were manual wind Rolex Oyster or automatic Oyster Perpetual models. Earlier watches given out in the 30’s through to the 1950’s, were famed Rolex Prince models. Women were given a unique Rolex model as their 1/4 Century watch.

The other variation of the Canadian Oyster isn’t actually Canadian, but American. The American retailer Zell Brothers sold Canadian Oysters under their store name Zell Brothers and the model name Turtle Timer, These watches usually had the movements marked Oyster Watch Ltd. And are highly sought after today.


The Rolex Submariner

The Rolex Submariner has celebrated over 50 years since it was first introduced. We can trace its roots back to the very first waterproof Rolex Oyster. However, the appearance of the model 6204 Submariner in 1954, signaled the dawn of what we have come to identify as the ultimate sports tool watch.

The Rolex 6204 was fitted with a Rolex caliber A296 semi-bubbleback automatic movement and was waterproof to 600 ft. This model was followed by the 6200 and the 6205.

In 1957, these models gave way to the Submariner models 6538 and 6536/1. Both had the new caliber 1030 movement and a larger case and better crown. This boosted the depth rating to 660 ft for the 6538, but dropped the 6536/1 to 330 ft.

The late 50’s was a transitional period for Rolex and the Submariner. Rolex introduced updated models using the 1500 series of movements. These ran concurrently with the short lived caliber 1030 series. The first Rolex Submariner to use the caliber 1530 was the model 5510. This model used the oversized crown of the Submariner model 6538. This model 5510 is one of the rarest of Vintage Rolex’s and was only produced for a year or two.

The Rolex model 5512, also using the Rolex automatic caliber 1530 and depth rated to 660 ft, quickly replaced the 5510. The 5512 was the watch that gave the Rolex Submariner its most identifiable face. With the crown guards, Mercedes hands and large waterproof case. This model was put up for sale alongside the replacement for the Rolex model 6536, the Submariner ref 5508 which still did not have crown guards and was only depth rated to 330 ft. When the 5508 was retired a new model was introduced. The 5512 was fitted with a chronometer rated Rolex 1560 movement. The reference 5513 was introduced using the venerable Rolex caliber 1530. The Rolex Submariner 5512 was marketed until the late 1970’s and the 5513 was finally retired in 1990.

All the previously mentioned vintage Rolex Submariners were no-date models. A Submariner model with a date window was introduced in 1965. The Rolex Submariner model 1680 was manufactured till the mid to late 1980’s.

Rolex later updated the product line and introduced models. Sapphire crystals and high beat movements were introduced in about 1985. The new model that first debuted with a sapphire crystal was the transitional Submariner 16800. This used the Rolex calibre 3035, chronometre rated with date mechanism. The Rolex Submariner 5513 was replaced with the Submariner model reference 14060 in about 1990. This model featured the Rolex automatic calibre 3000 and a synthetic sapphire crystal. The model 16800 was later replaced with the Submariner 16610 in about 1989-1990.


Omega Watches, history of an iconic brand

The story of Omega watches begins in 1848. With its founder Louis Brandt, hand assembling pocket watches put together from parts made in the local La Chaux-de-Fonds. Louis Brandt passed away in 1879, leaving the company to his two sons Louis-Paul and Cesar. They moved the company to Bienne in January 1880.

The name OMEGA made it’s debut in 1894. It was used as the name of one of the Brandt brother’s watch movement calibers.

Both Brandt brothers died in 1903, placing the fate of the company in the control of four people. The oldest  was, Paul-Emile Brandt, was only 23 years of age.

Following a merger with Tissot in 1930 a new parent company, SSIH, Société suisse pour l’industrie horlogère SA, Geneva, was created. This group eventually grew to over 50 companies including, Lanco, Lémania and Hamilton. Eventually SSIH became the third largest producers of finished watches and movements in the world.

During this period Omega produced some of its most collectible vintage Omega watches it is famous for.

Omega Constellation watches, the Omega Speedmaster chronograph, the Omega Seamaster waterproof sports watch and Seamaster Diver watches were all developed during this period. Omega also made a name for itself proving military watches and pilots watches during World War 2.

Through an economic crisis in the 1980’s the Omega watches merged with another large Swiss conglomerate, ASUAG, makers of Swatch, Longines and Rado, to create a new company ASUAG-SSIH. Eventually this pairing fell on hard times and the company was taken over by a private group and renamed SMH, which still exists today.

Omega watches are rated as some of the most popular watches sold today.

Tag Heuer watches 150 years of watchmaking heritage

Tag Heuer is one of the most popular watches in the marketplace today. The company has a long and storied history dating back to when they were just called Heuer watches. The watchmaking firm Edouard Heuer and Co dates back to 1864 when it was founded in Switzerland by its namesake. In reality, the original founder of the company was named Edouard Heuer, which eventually became Ed Heuer & Co when his sons began importing the watches into the US in 1912.

Ed Heuer was a pioneer and held the patent for the first watch to be wound by a crown. The company would also later develop a groundbreaking waterproof chronograph which would cement its involvement with sports timing. This association spanned many years with the Olympics and later Formula One auto racing.

The company has seen its share of ownership changes over the years. In the 1960’s it bought the Leonidas watch company to become known as Heuer-Leonidas. The following decade, the combined firm was bought by Piaget. During the 1980’s Saudi owned Techniques d’Avant Garde, well known at the time for its involvement with McLaren in Formula One, bought the watchmaking company and it has been know ever since as TAG Heuer. Most recently the firm was acquired by the LVMH Group.

Vintage Heuer watches have been steadily gaining in price over the years. In September 2013 an early Heuer Autavia went off for a stunning $25,000USD after buyers premium. Interestingly 4 years earlier the same watch sold for $3,500 through the same auction house.
Vintage Heuer Autavia at auction

Speculating on Vintage Watch values

daytona_valueDetermining a watch’s value is perhaps the biggest obstacle in watch collecting. So many factors go into  the watch value for any particular piece.

There are several price guides that one can purchase at your local book store or online, all designed to offer up an estimated value of a particular watch. The obvious caveat is that one publication can be expected to broadcast an accurate picture of the watch market globally for every particular watch available.

The value of a watch is the purest reflection of the demand for a watch. The old rule of supply and demand is the strictest guideline in this business. The most glaring examples of this are the values of two of the most sought after Rolex models in recent memory, the Rolex Explorer 1016 and the Rolex Daytona, models 6239, 6240, 6241, 6263 and 6265.

In the 1980’s brand new Rolex Daytona’s could be bought for less than $500 USD. A surge in popularity in Europe, most notably Italy, sent shock waves around the world and eventually prices had climbed to thousands of dollars for any of these models with the ultra collectible Paul Newman Exotic dialed models surpassing the price of a mid market luxury car.

Now with the Explorer 1016, the watch languished in the sub $500 USD price range until a Japanese television personality wore one on screen and an explosion demand driven by fashion conscious consumers sent the book value of this model into stratospheric levels in a very short space of time. The market in these watches peaked in the late 1990’s with the most pristine, late model hacking units commanding 5 figure sale prices in Asian markets.

Obviously it would beneficial to be able to predict the next hot item, but such is the nature of collecting, one never knows.
As and aside to the debate on value, on a recent trip to Las Vegas, I strolled through the Shops at Caesar’s Palace. There are a number of fine watch boutiques in the mall, however one well known national chain has a vintage watch counter that attracted my attention. There on display was a 1940’s vintage Canadian market Rolex Oyster, gold filled with a refinished dial. In days gone by, many had questioned the authenticity of Canadian Market Rolex’s due to the fact the movement was only signed Rolex under the dial on the top plate.

Now in Las Vegas there sits a less than prime example of this relative rarity, commanding the somewhat princely sum of $3895 USD! Given that these watches are a staple of my collection, I truly hope that this is a sign of things to come in this potentially undervalued market.