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Among all the increasingly valuable original Omega Speedmaster watches, the true ‘holy grails’ are of course the ones that have actually been worn on the surface of the Moon – or at least in space. Conventional wisdom says that the true lunar-worn watches will never end up in private hands, on the grounds that since they were issued by NASA and therefore remain government property. However, as you’ll see further down, it’s no longer quite that simple. 

The Missing NASA Speedmaster Watches

Of course Speedys aren’t the only timepieces that have been to outer space, and any of the space-worn watches that were privately purchased by astronauts wouldn’t be considered government property regardless. And the most famous Moon watch of them all – the one worn by Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 – is missing, which raises the possibility that it could turn up for sale some day, no doubt giving the record set by Paul Newman’s personal $17.8 million Rolex Daytona a run for its money. 

 

In 1971, Aldrin was instructed to send the watch to the Smithsonian after NASA inked a deal with the institution to display key items from its missions. Aldrin signed a chit saying it had indeed been sent there; however the watch never arrived. The Smithsonian does have Neil Armstrong’s Speedy, which he famously left in the lunar capsule, as well as the one worn by Michael Collins, who stayed in orbit during Apollo 11.

The museum is also in possession of Gordon Cooper’s Gemini 5 Speedmaster, the only one in the collection on a metal bracelet. However those are just three of the more than 50 watches that NASA donated to the Smithsonian in the 1970s, all of them of course (if you’ll pardon the pun) now worth an astronomical sum. And even more interesting: seven of them have been stolen while on loan to other museums. We’d wager that at least some of those are probably in the hands of some rather unscrupulous collectors. 

So, Who Owns The NASA Watches?

Could any of the watches still be in the hands of the astronauts? It’s possible. And if so, they might even be able to keep them – or sell them. That’s because of a legal action filed by the U.S. government against Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who tried to sell a camera he kept from the mission in a Bonhams auction in 2011. Eventually he was forced to return it to NASA because the government had no record that they’d transferred ownership of it to Mitchell. 

However in 2012, Barack Obama signed a new bill into law guaranteeing the “full ownership rights” of most anything the crew members of the Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini missions still had in their possession, with the exception of moon rocks and spacesuits. With Omega Speedmaster prices on the rise and higher than ever, this issue still generates plenty of controversy, arguably now more than ever before due to the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.

The post Who Actually Owns the NASA Moon and Space Watches? Maybe Not Who You Think appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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It’s time for a new installment of Watch in the Box! Episode 9 is out now!

Each week, countless packages arrive at our Newport Beach headquarters from all around the globe, and inside each box is a different luxury watch. Join us for the latest episode of our Watch in the Box video series, where we pull aside one of the incoming boxes and open it up on camera, so that you can be part of the big reveal. 

Watch in the Box: Episode 9

If you are not already familiar with our Watch in the Box video series, click HERE to visit our YouTube page, so you can watch all of the previous episodes and get caught up before watching the latest installment below. 

Also, if you have not already done so, please be sure like our videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel, so that you can stay up-to-date on all of the latest Watch In the Box episodes and other new video content.

Watch in the Box Episode 9 | Bob's Watches - YouTube

The post ‘Watch in the Box’ Video Series: Episode 9 appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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What do you get when you pair a dive watch with a chronograph? A useful tool watch that you can use on land and in the sea. Meet the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph – a great all-around sports watch to wear both in and out of water.

Design: Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph

The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph (ref. 212.30.44.50.01.001) is a proudly robust sports watch that offers plenty of presence on the wrist. There’s the generously sized 44mm stainless steel case that actually wears bigger thanks to the screw-down chronograph pushers flanking the winding crown and the protruding helium escape valve  (that also houses an integrated date corrector) at 10 o’clock. As its name suggests, the Diver 300M Chronograph is water resistant to 300 meters (1,000 feet). 

There’s also the striking polished black ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel on top of the case (marked to 60 minutes), in order to keep track of dive times. The sporty black dial features plenty of information but manages to do so in a well-balanced manner. Additionally, the trio of registers (30-minute recorder, 12-hour recorder, and a running seconds indicator) sits at the familiar 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. What’s more, tucked into the sub-dial at 6 o’clock is a date window. 

At the center of the dial are the oversized skeletonized sword-shaped hands with luminous tips, along with a red chronograph hand with a luminous dot. There are other red accents on the dial including the 5-minute markers on the minute track, the chronograph recorder hands, and the ‘Seamaster’ name. For added low-light visibility, the applied hour markers are filled with lume. Sitting on top of the dial is a domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides. 

Finishing off the look of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph is a stainless steel bracelet, complete with a folding clasp and wetsuit extension. 

Movement: Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph

Underneath the stainless steel caseback (furnished with Omega’s iconic Hippocampus logo) of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph is the Omega Co-Axial Caliber 3300 automatic movement. Offering a 52-hour power reserve, the Caliber 3330 movement – an officially certified chronometer – includes a column-wheel mechanism and a Co-Axial escapement. Additionally it is also fitted with a free sprung-balance that has a Si14 silicon hairspring. 

The Caliber 3330 movement allows chronograph timing function for this Omega watch to be accurate to 1/8 of a second, and can measure a total elapsed time of up to 12 hours. Additionally, rather than being adjusted through the winding crown, the date is set by pushing the corrector button at 10 o’clock, which has been integrated into the knob of the helium escape valve. 

There are times when you have to choose between wearing a dive watch and a chronograph. However, there’s no need to make that choice with the Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph since Omega has combined both functionalities in one highly-capable sports watch. A watch that can seamlessly go from timing elapsed events on land to a dive expedition deep underwater, the Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph is both an exceedingly practical and highly attractive watch to own.

The post Spotlight on the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronograph appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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Ready, set, get out your dive watches! It’s summer, which means that you need a luxury timepiece that can easily transition from roll-up-your-sleeves meetings to summer barbecues and epic adventures. Whether you’re using your bezel to track dive times or perfectly cook steaks on the grill, what dive watch lovers all have in common is the admiration for these stunning and durable watches. There’s a perfect model out there for you – here are a few of the dive watches that I had in mind. 

Two-Tone Rolex Submariner

A beloved classic, the Rolex Submariner is on the wishlist of just about every watch collector – dive enthusiast or not. This yellow gold and stainless ref. 116613 here is a beautiful example, the two-tone look being very ‘in’ after some years in the shadows. But it’s the blue bezel that really steals the show here, its bright color perfectly contrasting against the yellow gold and taking your mind right back to the sea. This is the kind of watch that’s going to look great on your wrist all summer long – whether you’re diving, grilling, or grabbing sunset drinks.

Black and Gold Panerai Submersible

What a looker! This black and gold Panerai Submersible is oh-so-handsome, perfectly oversized, and rugged with just the right amount of polish. The eye-catching unidirectional bezel with graduated scale is directly inspired by the 1950’s L’Egiziano Panerai made for the Egyption Navy; however it has been brought into the 21st century with sleek black ceramic and goldtech plots. The Panerai exclusive red gold ‘goldtech’ case clocks in at 42mm and is flanked by that famous crown guard that you’re just dying to see on a Panerai. The black alligator strap elevates the look, but this watch will go the distance if put to the test – some 100 meters.

Stainless and Sedna Gold Omega Diver 300M

Only introduced in 1993, the Diver 300M has gained an emphatic and loyal following in a relatively short time. There are many variations of this model, but right now I’m particularly drooling over the Stainless and Sedna Gold version with matching link bracelet. While being a full-spec dive watch inside and out – from the black ceramic diving scale bezel to the 300-meter (1000 feet) water resistance – this watch oozes with class. It’s the kind of piece you can transition from the office to the weekend seamlessly. Plus, that wave dial is just to die for, isn’t it?

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda

This watch gives me all the vintage, fuzzy, old-school dive watch feelings I’ve been longing for. Blancpain more-or-less invented the modern dive watch, so to see this incredibly iconic model embody a classic aesthetic just feels right. The design of the dial is derived from an early model they created for the Bundesmarine in the 1960’s, featuring those beautiful large, rectangular, red and cream hour-markers. They’ve even been coated with an “old radium” colored Super-LumiNova, whereas the pencil-shaped hands are finished white and filled with the same aged lume. The black bezel with cream-colored markers and a classic round shape keeps it true to the Fifty Fathoms collection. If you want a dive watch with vintage flare, this is your guy.

 

Red Bezel Tudor Black Bay

The Black Bay has been Tudor’s most popular watch to date. And with this beautiful reference with a red bezel, stainless case, and matching bracelet, it’s easy to see why. The collection is based on their vintage dive watches and it has all those elements collectors admire, like the unprotected and oversized crown, chamfered lugs, and the signature Tudor “snowflake” hands. The rose gold minute indicators that frame the dial tie the vintage look together nicely, too, don’t they? Of course, it also has a screw-down steel winding crown and boasts 200m (660 feet) of water resistance, making this a force of fashion and machinery. 

The post Plunge Into Summer With These 5 Dive Watches appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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As part of our series looking at the sometimes barely noticeable design differences that exist across a single Rolex reference, we turn our attention to one of the most lusted-after pieces in all of the brand’s archives; the ref. 1665 – much better known as the Double Red Sea-Dweller (DRSD). Named for its twin lines of red dial text; ‘Sea-Dweller’ and ‘Submariner 2000’, this was the debut offering in the highly successful and influential series, the one originally built for and in conjunction with COMEX, the French saturation diving pioneers.

In production for 10 years, between 1967 and 1977, the DRSD took over where the Submariner left off, leaving its little brother in the relative shallows with its incredible depth rating of 2,000ft versus the Sub’s, at the time, 660ft. And it introduced the Helium Escape Valve (HEV), a revolutionary pressure release vent that allowed built up gases accumulated inside the case during extended stays underwater to seep out before they could damage the watch.

During its decade-long run, the DRSD went through four different dial versions and three different casebacks. Below, we will take a look at some of the variances between each one and the effect they have on the resale price of this all-time classic.

There’s Rare and Then There’s Rare

Just as a quick aside; before there was the Double Red Sea-Dweller, there was the Single Red Sea-Dweller (SRSD). These were the prototypes Rolex made to test whether their new creation could survive the environments experienced by COMEX’s crews. As such, they were never sold commercially and were instead given out to a handful of professional divers to wear on the job. Some were fitted with the HEV, others weren’t.

As you can probably guess only one line of text on the dial – the ‘Sea-Dweller’ title – is picked out in red with the rest in white, including the unusual depth rating of 500m, or 1,650ft. The feedback Rolex received from COMEX was poured into the production version; the Double Red. 

While an example of the Double Red Sea-Dweller can be tracked down without too much difficulty on the pre-owned market, the chances of you stumbling across one of the 12 Single Reds rumored to still exist (only 11 of which with their original dials) are extremely slim.

The Mark I Dials and the Patent Pending Case Back

As well as the Single Red, Rolex’s first trial with the Helium Escape Valve came when they retrofitted it to a number of ref. 5513 Submariners at the request of COMEX, giving these watches the 5514 reference number. Today, these watches (along with all other Submariner watches that have the COMEX logo on their dials) are known as COMEX Subs.

The HEV proved a huge success; an ingeniously simple solution to a challenging problem, and Rolex decided to rush through the production of the first Sea-Dweller, the ref. 1665, even before they had received the official copyright for their new invention.  Consequently, the very first batch of Sea-Dwellers had a caseback engraved (already making it a rarity among Rolex watches) with the text ‘Oyster Gas Escape Valve’ and next to it, ‘Patent Pending’. Additionally, the Rolex coronet and the brand name are featured prominently.

As with many new releases from the group, these initial watches from 1967 were issued in a very limited number, as Rolex literally tested the waters. The actual figure can only be guessed due to the highly secretive nature of just about everything Rolex does; however it is estimated there were only around 100 examples ever made.

The 40mm stainless steel case was almost identical to the COMEX ref. 5514 Submariner, and noticeably thinner than the case that was used when the watch was put into regular production in 1971. All were fitted with an HEV and were marked with a serial number between 1.7 million and 2.2 million.

The dial, known as the Mark I (or MKI) among collectors, is matte black with white hour markers. The coronet logo is flat at the bottom, a little heavier looking than normal, and lines up perfectly with the ‘L’ of Rolex underneath it. Those two all important red lines, ‘Sea-Dweller’ and ‘Submariner 2000’ – one above the other, use the same size font, unlike later versions where the lower script is slightly smaller. The red print was actually painted over white so today, many of these pieces have faded to a very faint pink.

A big selling point for the Sea-Dweller concerned its date function. It was introduced onto the Submariner with the ref. 1680 the same year as the DRSD’s launch and immediately split opinion. Some fans felt there was no need for a date window on a recreational dive watch in the first place, and fitting the controversial Cyclops window over it alienated others still further.

With the Sea-Dweller destined to be worn by commercial divers who could realistically expect to spend days if not weeks living in underwater environments, knowing the date was an obvious advantage. Since the depths they were working at would be so highly pressurized a domed crystal without a Cyclops magnification lens was fitted to the Sea-Dweller, allowing its dial to remain more pleasingly symmetrical than the Sub’s, and with a touch of added utility.

The Mark II Double Red Sea-Dweller Dials

Just a year later in 1968, the Mark II versions of the Double Red started to emerge. The most important difference occurs on the reverse, with the caseback now engraved with ‘Rolex Patent Oyster Gas Escape Valve’ – their new invention having received its official license.

The dial also has a number of differences, some intentional, others accidental. ‘Submariner 2000’ is now slightly smaller than the ‘Sea-Dweller’ text, and the ‘D’ and ‘W’ are touching, a quick giveaway for those who know where to look as to which iteration it is. Both lines are obviously still red in color. At the 12 o’clock, the coronet is slightly blurred and badly defined, leading to the nickname the smudge crown. And the dial itself was covered in a lacquer which reacted with UV light, oxidizing and turning from matte black to a deep chocolate brown color over time. With the exception of the Patent Pending Mark I models, the chocolate dial Mark II DRSDs are the most valuable and sought-after examples of this highly collectible watch.

So how valuable are we talking? The earliest versions don’t come up all that often, and it is always something of an event when they do. As with all true classic Rolex watches in recent years, auction prices are skyrocketing. A Mark I Patent Pending example went for just under $144,000 at Philips’s Winning Icons sale a few months ago. More recently, a chocolate dial MKII sold for around $52,500 with Sothebys.

As a point of reference, if you were even able to find a Single Red up for grabs somewhere, it would be going for seven-figures. The good news is that after 1971, Rolex put the Sea-Dweller into regular production with the Mark III and Mark IV dials, and there are a lot more of those available on the pre-owned market, with noticeably more palatable prices.

Be sure to check back here for Part 2 of our article on the minute differences in the ref. 1665 Double Red Sea-Dweller!

The post Minute Details: Rolex Double Red Sea-Dweller 1665 – Part I appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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TAG Heuer continued its 50th anniversary celebrations for the iconic square-cased Monaco made famous by Steve McQueen with a lavish soirée in New York City the other night. At the event, hosted by former Miss Universe and “friend of the brand” Paulina Vega, TAG unveiled the latest in its series of special 50th Anniversary TAG Heuer Monaco watches, this one based on the 1990s.

A Tribute to the 1990s for the FIA Formula E Championship

An odd time to pay tribute to it might seem, but TAG has decided that each of the five new watches will honor a decade of its watchmaking history. Also at the event were two of its brand ambassadors, race car driver and 2017/2018 Formula E Champion Jean-Éric Vergne, and actor/racing driver Patrick Dempsey, whom some say is the modern-day McQueen.

The event was timed to lead up to the 2019 New York City E-Prix Formula E Championship race, which took place on 13 and 14 July in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where Vergne will defend his title. TAG is Official Time Keeper and Founding Partner of the FIA Formula E Championship. The brand staged a heritage exhibition showing off its ties to the world of motor racing – guests had to walk through the exhibit before entering the event, which was held at Cipriani Downtown. 

TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Special Edition

The new watch was unveiled with a light and video show. The “1989-1999 Special Edition” watch (as it is rather awkwardly called) will be limited to just 169 pieces. It’s designed to have a “steely industrial appearance” with a  bit of a street style vibe, finished in blue and silver, with red highlights.

It features a grained rhodium-plated dial with sandblasted sub-dials, and it comes on a blue perforated rally-style calfskin strap with red contrast stitching. The caseback, featuring vertical and circular brushed finishing, is engraved with the “Monaco Heuer” logo as well as “1989-1999 Special Edition” and “One of 169”. 

Inside the watch lies TAG’s Calibre 11, a modern (although fundamentally different from a design standpoint) version of the automatic-winding chronograph movement that made its debut inside the original Monaco in 1969 – hence the number of pieces. The Monaco isn’t for everyone, and the 1990s don’t raise much sentimentality among watch collectors unless we’re talking pre-Vendome Panerai, so we’ll see how much interest TAG’s Monaco 1989-1999 Special Edition manages to stir up.

*All images courtesy of TAG Heuer

The post TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Special Edition Launches in New York City appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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Thinking of getting a Rolex dive watch but haven’t settled on which model to get yet? Maybe this comparison between the Submariner 116610 and the Sea-Dweller 126600 will help you decide. Read on to discover the similarities and differences between these two ceramic-clad stainless steel Rolex divers. 

Design: Submariner 116610 vs. Sea-Dweller 126600

At first glance, the Submariner 116610 LN and the Sea-Dweller 126600 are quite similar in looks. After all, both of them have 904L stainless steel Oyster cases, black Cerachrom ceramic bezels, black dials with a date window, and stainless steel Oyster bracelets. However, if we take a closer look at these components, the differences begin to reveal themselves. 

Firstly, the Submariner 116610 and the Sea-Dweller 126600 may have similar appearances; however, their cases are actually different sizes. The Submariner’s case has a 40mm diameter, while the Sea-Dweller’s case measures 43mm. Although previous versions of the Sea-Dweller had 40mm cases, the extra 3mm makes for a noticeably larger presence on the wrist and helps accommodate the Sea-Dweller’s helium escape valve, which allows it to be used for saturation diving. Let’s not forget that the Sea-Dweller is water resistant to 1,220 meters (4,000 feet!), which is four times the Sub’s 300-meter depth rating. 

If we turn our attention to the unidirectional bezels on both watches, we’ll see that the Submariner’s Cerachrom bezel insert includes markings for each of the first 15 minutes followed by markings for every 5 minutes. On the other hand, the Sea-Dwellers’ Cerachrom bezel insert has graduations all the way around the bezel for the complete 60 minutes. Both bezels include a luminescent pearl at 12 o’clock. 

Moving to the face of the watches, we see that they have almost identical layouts with lume-filled hour makers framed by white gold, luminous Mercedes-style hands, and a date window at the 3 o’clock location. Additionally, with the introduction of the ref. 126600, Rolex added a Cyclops magnification lens to the crystal of the Sea-Dweller, bringing these two watches even closer together. Both of these Rolex divers have Chromalight as their luminous material, which glows blue in the dark. Of course, the text on the dials differs to reflect each watch’s model name and depth rating, with the Sea-Dweller embracing red text for its name – an homage to the original version of the Sea-Dweller from the 1960s. 

The biggest difference between the tapered Oyster bracelets of the Submariner 116610 and the Sea-Dweller 126600 is the clasp. Both bracelets come equipped with a folding Oysterlock safety clasp and the Glidelock extension system. However, the Sea-Dweller is further equipped with the Fliplock extension link so that the bracelet can extend by an additional 26mm to fit over a thicker wetsuit. 

Movement, Production, and Price: Submariner 116610 vs. Sea-Dweller 126600

The Submariner 116610 runs on Rolex’s Caliber 3135 movement, which has a power reserve of about 42 hours. On the other hand, the Sea-Dweller 126600 is powered by the Caliber 3235, which offers users a 70-hour power reserve.  Interestingly, if you flip the watches around to look at the fluted casebacks that protect the movements, you’ll notice that the Sea-Dweller features an inscription (ROLEX OYSTER SEA-DWELLER. ORIGINAL GAS ESCAPE VALVE) on the steel surface – not a common sight on Rolex watches. Conversely, the Submariner, like most Rolex watches) has an unmarked caseback. 

The Submariner 116610LN made its debut at Baselworld 2010 and continues to be a part of Rolex’s current catalog today. Rolex launched the Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 in 2017 as an update to the 40mm version of the Sea-Dweller, and since it has only been in production for a couple of years, there are significantly fewer examples of the Sea-Dweller 126600 available the secondary market than the Submariner 116610LN 

The Sea-Dweller ref. 126600 retails for $11,350. However these days, they often sell for more than their retail price on the secondary market due to lengthy waitlists for the watch at authorized retailers. Additionally, although the ref. 126600 is Sea-Dweller is still in production, it has only been available for a couple years, so there are a relatively small number in existence.

Although the official retail price of the Submariner 116610LN is $8,550, it’s no secret that it is challenging to even find one for sale at a Rolex boutique these days, thanks to their incredibly high demand. Subsequently, expect to pay closer to $10,000 for a pre-owned Submariner ref. 116610LN and a few thousand more for an unworn example on the secondary market. 

To sum up, the new Sea-Dweller 126600 is more water resistant, less common, larger, and more expensive than the current Submariner 116610LN. Nevertheless, no one can deny that the Submariner is by far the more popular dive watch between the two. In fact, the Submariner is without a doubt the most famous diver in the watch world, period. Therefore, the Submariner 116610LN offers wider appeal while the Sea-Dweller 126600 is beloved by a smaller niche. 

Among these two, which Rolex diver is your favorite? 

The post Rolex Submariner 116610 vs. Sea-Dweller 126600 appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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As a watch writer, I am constantly coming across mentions of the number of jewels in watch movements. And to be totally honest, in both my reading and writing, I usually gloss over this fact with little consideration. Amongst other details like case size, materials, complications, and performance specs, the number of jewels always seemed somewhat frivolous – a minor detail in the bigger picture.

It wasn’t until recently that I started wondering why the jewel was just so important to the mechanism. We constantly read about them in product descriptions for luxury watches, yet their function is rarely mentioned. And if I’m wondering these things, I thought some of you must be too. So, here I’m going to explain what I learned about jewels in watch movements and why you should care about them.

So, what are jewels?

When it comes to jewels in a watch, what we’re really referring to here are rubies. Second only to diamonds, rubies are incredibly hard, making them the perfect friction-fighting watch parts. In watchmaking, reducing friction is imperative to keeping the watch running accurately. So instead of having metal-on-metal contact for high-friction points in the movement – like on wheel trains and escape levers – watchmakers turned to jewels. 

So that’s why my watch is so expensive!

Not quite. Contrary to popular belief, the rubies used inside watch movements aren’t really all that intrinsically valuable. Given that natural rubies are extremely rare, the ones used inside your watch are synthetic. Plus, these rubies are so incredibly small – sometimes as tiny as 0.5 millimeters (0.02 inches) wide – and cut and filed into various specific shapes, so they really don’t hold any significant monetary value. However, when it comes to keeping your mechanism running smoothly, they’re totally instrumental. 

Rubies in your timepiece actually indicate quality

The jewel count of a watch is often a direct indicator of the complexity of the mechanism. To put things into perspective, the average mechanical watch will utilize 17 jewels. The vast majority of them serve as either cap or pivot jewels; however an impulse jewel is used for the balance wheel and two pallet jewels serve as the teeth for the pallet fork.

But, a watch with additional components or complications like a chronograph or moonphase, could use double the number rubies, if not more. This is simply because there will be more contact points where friction needs to be kept to a minimum. To give you an idea of what we mean, a modern chronograph like the Rolex Daytona has 44 jewels; however there are behemoths like the IWC Il Destriero Scafusia which has a flying minutes tourbillon and boasts 76 jewels.

In conclusion: jewels make your watch run better

While Jewels do make your watch run better, they don’t necessarily make it worth more. Yes, the number of rubies in your watch are indicators of the complexity of the complication. Additionally, a high jewel count in a simple movement can also be an indicator of precision or quality, since the manufacturer chose to add additional rubies to maximize its performance. However, the rubies themselves don’t make your watch any more expensive than the rest just because they’re in there. So the next time you find yourself reading product descriptions and see the jewel count of the movement listed, you’ll know exactly what they are doing there. 

The post What Are Jewels Doing in My Watch? appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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July 20th will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. And as many of you already know, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were all issued NASA-approved Omega Speedmaster Professional chronographs for their epic space journey. The vintage Omega Speedmaster market has always been robust, but we are seeing unprecedented levels of interest (and rising values) these days – no doubt fueled in part by the milestone anniversary. For those of you who may be interested in delving into vintage Speedmaster watches, today we’re taking a look at two vintage Speedmaster Professional references: the 145.012 vs 145.022.

Production Dates and Design: Speedmaster 145.012 vs 145.022

Omega produced the Speedmaster Professional ref. 145.012 from 1967 until 1968 (with a few models delivered in 1969). Given its manufacturing dates, it is known as a pre-Moon Speedmaster. In fact, astronaut Michael Collins was issued a Speedmaster Pro ref. 145.012 for use during the Apollo 11 mission. 

On the other hand, the Speedmaster Professional ref. 145.022 made its debut in 1968 to replace the 145.012 and remained in production until 1981. In 1981, the 145.022 transitioned to the 145.0022 reference (but still retained the same case number) and remained in the catalog until 1988. The 145.022 is the longest-running Speedy Pro reference to date. Since the Lunar Landing occurred one year later in 1969, there are only a few pre-Moon Speedmaster ref. 145.022 models. 

The cases of the Speedmaster Professional 145.012 and the 145.022 are essentially identical, which is to say 42mm in diameter, stainless steel, and topped with the familiar black tachymeter bezel. 

However, if you look closely at the tachymeter scale of ref. 145.012, you’ll see that there’s a dot over 90 (DO90 or DON) while the Speedmaster ref. 145.022 has the dot next to 90 (DN90 or DNN). The dials have some minor differences too. The Speedmaster Professional 145.012 has an applied Omega logo on the dial. Conversely, the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 introduced the printed Omega logo – a trait that can be found on the modern Speedmaster Professional watches that Omega manufactures today.

The casebacks of the earlier 145.012 reference featured the famed Omega Hippocampus emblem along with “Speedmaster.” After Buzz Aldrin took his steps on the moon with his Speedy on his wrist, Omega began including “The First Watch Worn On The Moon” text on the back of the Speedmaster Pro ref. 145.022 watches. The style of the inscription changed over the years, culminating in the medallion case back with the Hippocampus at center encircled by text.

The only exception to these design differences can be found on the “transitional” pre-moon Speedmaster Professional ref. 145.022-68, which carried over many of the design details of the preceding ref. 145.012. 

Movement: Speedmaster 145.012 vs 145.022 (Caliber 321 vs Caliber 861)

The exterior variances between the 145.012 and the 145.022 may be difficult to spot at first glance; but open up the case and you’ll see one major difference between these two vintage Speedmaster Professional models. The ref. 145.012 is the last Speedmaster to have Caliber 321 while ref. 145.022 was the first to come equipped with Caliber 861.

The result of a collaboration between Omega and Lémania, the manually-wound Caliber 321 uses a column-wheel chronograph system with a horizontal clutch. Compared to a cam-controlled chronograph, a column-wheel one is considered better quality and smoother to operate – yet more complicated and expensive to build. This beautifully designed and robust movement is so important to Omega’s history and so beloved by Omega enthusiasts that the brand recently announced that Caliber 321 will be going back into production.  

The subsequent manually-wound Caliber 861 (also Lémania-based) uses a cam-controlled chronograph, resulting in an easier and less expensive movement to build. It’s safe to assume that Omega anticipated that the demand for the newly coined “Moonwatch” would be significant, thus needed a chronograph caliber for the Speedmaster that would be quicker to manufacture. However, the Caliber 861 also brought with it a higher frequency; it operates at 21,600 beats per hour compared to Caliber 321’s 18,000bph rate. 

Value and Collectability: Speedmaster 145.012 vs 145.022

In the current vintage market, the Speedmaster Professional 145.012 is generally significantly more expensive than the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 – about double. This isn’t surprising given that the earlier model was only in production for two years, and it is the last Speedy to come with the coveted Caliber 321. 

The Speedmaster Professional 145.022 is still an affordable option for a vintage Speedy with current prices ranging anywhere from $3,500 to $5,500. It remained in production for a long time, so there are plenty of examples currently available on the secondary market. But as we have mentioned, the general demand for vintage Speedmasters is on the rise. And we wouldn’t be surprised if prices for the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 continue to go up as demand increases. Consequently, while they are still somewhat plentiful today, the pool of examples in good condition may start to dry up.  

Both great examples of vintage Speedmaster watches, the Speedmaster Professional 145.021 is the last of the pre-Moon Speedys equipped with the legendary Caliber 321 movement, while the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 with its then-new Caliber 861 paved the way for the modern Omega Moonwatch lineup.  

The post Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.012 vs 145.022 appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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Legendary Swiss-Italian watch brand Officine Panerai (owned by Richemont) is giving its Radiomir watch collection a bit more muscle with four new versions sporting military green dials. As Panerai’s two oldest lines of watches, the Radiomir and Luminor both have impressive military heritages, having originally been designed for and worn by the Italian Royal Navy’s elite underwater commandos.

The Panerai Radiomir’s cushion-shaped design actually predates that of the more-popular Luminor, with prototypes having originally been created back in 1936. At sizes ranging from 45mm to 48mm, the new watches are hardly understated, but the brand calls the matte green dials with beige lume “discreet and intentionally elusive.” We would add extremely handsome.

Two of the four new military green dial Radiomir watches offer GMT functionality. (Image: Panerai)

New Panerai Radiomir Watches with Green Dials 

First up is the 45mm PAM995, which comes fitted with Panerai’s thinnest automatic movement, the caliber P.4000. At $11,200 it is the least expensive version of the four new green-dial watches. The PAM998, priced at $12,000, is a GMT watch and also has a case size of 45mm. Inside it features the caliber P. 4001, which adds a second time zone and an AM/PM indicator, along with a power reserve that is displayed on the movement side of the watch.

Panerai Radiomir PAM995. (Image: Panerai)

The 45mm PAM999 moves up to $12,200 and gets the caliber P. 4002, which also offers GMT functionality, but brings its power reserve indicator to the dial side of the timepiece. And finally the PAM997, priced at $13,300 and sized at 48mm, is the big bad wolf among them. It features a matte black ceramic sandblasted case which gives it a stealth ops vibe that is well suited to the model’s heritage.

Panerai Radiomir GMT PAM998. (Image: Panerai)

There is no power reserve indicator on the PAM997; however it offers a cleaner dial in the style of the PAM995. And while the other models come on brown or tan leather straps, the PAM997 sits on a black “Ponte Vecchio” calf leather strap, named in homage to the famous landmark in Florence, where Panerai was founded in 1860. 

Panerai Radiomir GMT PAM999. (Image: Panerai)

All of the watches are water-resistant to 10 bar (a depth of 100 meters) and come presented in satin-finished green cherry wood boxes (along with spare straps) that are lined in green leather, in a nod to the dials. We’re not sure if these watches will win over any diehard Luminor fans, but they may just attract some new dive watch enthusiasts to the ranks of the Paneristi.

Panerai Radiomir PAM997. (Image: Panerai)

The post New Panerai Radiomir Watches with Military Green Dials appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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