Monday, September 29, 2014

Benrus type 1 crystal

After some consideration, I have finally ordered a nos old crystal from the US for the Benrus type 1. Hope to receive it soon so that the Benrus could have a new glasses...

Benrus Type 1 Class A

The Benrus Type 1 Class A dive watch was issued to members of the UDT-SEAL, Green Berets and Special Forces towards the end of the Vietnam conflict. These watches were very durable and some consider it to be the ultimate military dive watch, hence the Class A nomenclature. 

The Type I Class A dive watch has the perfect dial for military dive watch with its simple zen design. This field-proven case design, and the only U.S. military issued watch to feature an automatic movement with hack feature has made this watch special. 

It was made under a military specification of its own, namely the MIL-W-50717 specification. As mentioned, the watch was designated CLASS A, which is essentially the highest classification awarded to military watches. 

As it is supplied in the United States Army military watches, the watch has been named the TYPE 1  Mainly employed as a diving watches, such as the United States Navy.  TYPE 2 made in the late 1970s. This TYPE1 is for water interaction model  (diving) while TYPE 2 is the model with ground personnel. 

It has taken me almost 6 months to hunt for these Benrus Type 1 and like the Seiko 300 m 6159-700 using the hi beat movement, these watches are extremely difficult to find and much luck is needed to find them. It is easier to find Rolex then these as these active "tools" watches often went through has harsh environments and not many of these appears in the market. Initially, I was thinking that perhaps it will be easier to find a type 2 but my watch sifu Mr. TK Lee has taught me one lesson in collecting watches is that one should always go for the best and the most difficult one to collect first and the rest will fall in place.

Owing to the students demonstration, many of my customers were affected by the road blockage and I ended up walking into a vintage watch shop not expecting anything. I have always considered military watches that is still around lucky as these amazingly durable and accurate watches have faithfully accompanied their previous owners on many dangerous missions be it reconnaissance and behind-the-line operations and combat conducted in the hot and humid jungles of Vietnam. Being able to appear in the shop means that these watches have survived. These Benrus watch together with the Seiko 6105 and a Glycine Airman watches were the favourite of the US forces.

The watch is heavy and the heavy steel case measures 47.5mm lug to lug, 42.4mm across the crown, with thickness reaching 15.3mm. Rigid strap bars are fixed to the case and takes a 20mm black nylon band. It has a screw-down crown with crown protecting shoulders that protrudes smoothly from the lugs. 

One-piece case design helped the watch achieve necessary water resistantance required by the nature of underwater activities conducted by UDT-SEAL teams. Ziggy Wesolowski, author of Concise Guide to Military Timepieces, reports the watch to have been tested to depths of 495 feet. 

Like what a collector has mentioned In his blog, one of the beautiful aspects found on this Benrus dive watch is the perfect dome shaped plastic crystal. It is very thick, about 3mm, and looks extremely tough. 

Even though my watch has scratched marks within the crystal, given the 3mm thickness, it can still function well making me thinking twice of replacing the crystals.

Thanks to my friend Bryan, I have managed to consolidate my military watch collection. The dirty dozen is always on my lists but the Benrus Type 1 has taken priority owing to the unique design and larger size.

According to information found on the net, the Type I was procured in several (I count five) contracts from 1972 to 1977, all but the first contract were purchased by the Navy Supply Center (now Naval Inventory Control Point) Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The single contract (in 1980) for The Type II, Class B was also purchased by NAVSUP Mechanicburg.

All the Type II watches (and the first contract of Type Is, five in all) were contracted by the Army from 1972 to 1977, first through Frankford Arsenal, Pennsylvania, then when Frankford started the wind down for its closure, the last two contacts were made through Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.

Although, the last contracts for the Type I and II was set in 1977, production under these contacts lasted until 1980.

There were 9,223 Type II, Class A watches made, around 6,000 Type I, and maybe 1000 Type II, Class Bs...

As part of the exercises, I have started to streamline my watches and instead of collecting numerous of the same kind, I have decided to keep only one each and letting go the spares so that I can free up space for new toys to come in. My one in one out policy has to be reinforced as I have not been following the rules set previously.

Time to hunt for its partner type II....

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rolex 1005

This is a late 50s-1960s solid 14k gold automatic watch with chronometer. It has a very reliable 1560 movement and the size is a very comfortable size to wear with a nice coin edge bezel. The watch has natural aging and has the classic look. I remembered during the 1988, I would not consider watches from the 1960s as it has less then 30 years of history. 

However, with the passage of times, these 1960s watches have suddenly gained their straps and be admitted in the wall of fame... One reason for getting the watch is due to the good price .. I am lucky to find one would normally pay for a steel or steel,with gold bezelwatch.

Omega seamaster - Jäeger lecoultre alarm - IWC automatic - Rolex Royal - Rolex 1005

Just found a photo of the vintage 1005 from the web with similar spotting in the dial. It seems that these early watches are subjected to spotting...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Watch spring cleaning and consolidation

With my coming posting to Bangkok, I have started to pack my items and getting ready to move. During the course of packing, I have decided also to do a spring cleanig on my watch collection. Over the week end, I have sold of the following watches as part of the streamlining exercise.

Many of the vintage Rolex prices have gone to the roof. With the spring cleaning of my other excess watches, I have started to regroup and now started a simple project to consolidate IWC with the addition of the following IWC steel automatic.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Watch made for Sir Winston Churchill

IWC Ref 527 Cal 89

" International Watch Co. "

During the early 1990s, I have bought an IWC while on vacation with fellow colleagues in UK. I have sold it for a small profit after a while and I have focused my collection mainly on Rolex. Given the increasing in prices for Rolex, I have started to collect Grand Seiko, Omega and recently to IWC as a result of the MarkX and Mark XI.

I have used several of my other brands of vintage watches to trade for this stainless Steel Snap-Back Case, Ref. 527, silvered original Dial, embossed, Steel Markers and arabic Numerals, Steel luminous Hands, Sweep Second, decorated 17 Jewels Movement, Cal. 89, Shock-Protection, Switzerland, ca. 1965, Diameter ca. 35 mm. 1696028

The IWC Cal.89 is one of the cornerstones of IWC. The cal 89 was in the famous IWC Mark XI. Being in the ledger of IWC,cal 89 shows first up in 1946 and for the last time in 1970 when the last 6.000 have been produced.

IWC ref 1828

My interest in IWC continues with the original IWC 1828, with cal. 8541B. I must admit that I have seen this watch a couple,of times but it has not caught my interest as such tonneau shape has a love hate relationship. However, after some viewing, I began to appreciate the oyster shape as well as the movement. The Movement has second-stop mechanism for accurate time setting, it is shock resistant and anti-magnetic. Calibre 8541B is one of the best automatic movements ever built in Switzerland. Its Pellaton winding mechanism is well-constructed, and beautifully finished. There is an automatic change of date within a few minutes around midnight. Adjustment of the date is done by moving the hands forwards and one could do a fast change of date by moving the hours between 11-12. As the prices of these IWC are still at a very reasonable range, it gives me great pleasure in hunting the variations of the automatic IWC using the 8541b movements..

Ref 527 &1828

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Early Rolex

This is a special dial Rolex with 6 crowns. Even though the dial looks like it has been reconditioned, the embossed Rolex crowns are still unique....

Together with fellow Royal from 1955, with quartered "Chevron" dial

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Jaeger Lecoutlre alarm cal 489

Jaeger LeCoultre first launched their alarm watch in 1950. The earliest first version featured calibre 489 as per photo below.

Symbolizing the organization of time and efficiency of the post-war boom period, the Memovox, literally meaning “voice of memory” quickly became the watch for man and It’s striking mechanism gave a pleasant accent to the schedule of daily life: waking up, reminder for appointments, train timetables or parking meters etc.

The first Memovox models were hand wound, Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 489. 

The second generation caliber  814 was made from 1953-64. The Calibre 814 was similar to the 489 that it replaced and many of the component parts are common to both units. The key difference between the two calibres is the presence of a distinctive very large plate on the 814, this almost covering the top of the movement when viewed from the back. In 1956, Jaeger-LeCoultre produces extension to the 2nd generations: the first automatic bumper style Memovox, caliber 815 (no date) and caliber 825 (with date).  These watches were very popular and produced in a variety of dials and case materials.  

The caliber 489 has the same total area of plate coverage, but divided almost centrally into two separate plates. The cal 489 was built around three separate bridges, whereas the cal 814 for ease of manufacture, had a single upper plate. The design of the 916 went full circle back to the same three bridge construction that had appeared on the 489 fourteen years earlier.

For the cal 489 model, the upper crown winds and sets the alarm function, entirely independently of the standard timekeeping aspect of the watch, which is controlled by the lower crown. Though expensive to create, this separation had the great benefit of increased accuracy

The most famous use of these two movements was in the highly collectible and expensive divers watches. The 200m rated Deep Sea used the cal 815 and was produced between 1959 and 1961, with only 950 watches produced. The 42mm Polaris used both the alarm complication and JLC's super compressor technology, which was a precursor to today's Master Compressor watches. The Polaris used the cal 825 movement and was tested to 600m. It was produced from 1965 to 1969. 

The 3rd generation was produced in 1962 with the introduction of the  Caliber 910 (no date) and Caliber 911 (with date) is introduced replacing caliber 814.  The new 910, still a manual wind movement, appeared to have incorporated Kif shock protection as standard equipment, removing other shock protection methods and the special shock protection designation as in previous calibers.  By this time, shock protections was standard on all Memovox watches.   The 3rd generation were produced from 1964-79.

1969 - A huge milestone for Jaeger-LeCoultre is the development of the fully automatic bi-directional winding Memovox, resulting in the release of caliber 916.  The 916 was a date version movement, which required a redesign of the alarm mechanism to allow the rotor to swing freely through 360 degrees. The 916 was the first alarm movement in history to incorporate a fully automatic winding system to wind both the timing and alarm mechanism.  It ran at 28,800 beats per hour, compared to the 18,000 beats of all the previous calibers and is often called the "speedbeat", for obvious reasons. This movement developed into caliber 919, then caliber 918 - which was still used up to 2005 in the Master Compressor series. 

There is also the matter of "LeCoultre" vs. "Jaeger-LeCoultre" signatures on both the dials and the movements of watches of this era. For much of the mid-twentieth century, Jaeger-LeCoultre watches sold in the US market were sold under the LeCoultre brand name. 

In summary, the models are:
Cal 489 manual hand wind
Cal 814 manual hand wind
Cal 815 (bumper auto no date)
Cal 816 (bumper auto date) 
Cal 910 (manual hand wind with Kif shock protection)
Cal 911 (with date)
Cal 916 bi-directional winding memovox

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Special dial Longines

There are many watch collectors who kept chasing after Rolex sports and pushing these vintage Rolex sports prices sky high. Gor me, there are many nice vintage watches and treasures that are waiting to be discovered...

Vintage Glashutte diver

This is the vintage Glashutte diver made in Germany. Case: chrome plated; diameter excl. crown approx 38mm; lug to lug approx. 46mm; lug wid...