Events: London Watch Show 2020 Should Be a Collectors Delight

There is a well established event in London which showcases luxury watches, that one being Salon QP, which is a kind of Rich Kids of Mayfair type of show, a kind of Tutankamen homage to horology, with timepieces largely entombed in thick glass, to be adored and worshipped. Beautiful, but remote.

There is an alternative show however, which takes place in London at the Intercontinental Hotel, 02 Arena, on April 3rd-4th this year. Again, it is going to concentrate on the Swiss luxury end of the market, since this is where the big money is within watch retailing and collecting, but the organisers say there will be entry level watches to buy as well.

As a bonus, you get a few supercars to look at, plus the confirmed exhibitors page lists plenty of independent watch dealers, repair specialists, and a few non-watch companies like bespoke furniture, wealth management consultants etc. Watch security? Our advice is always buy a heavy safe and bolt it down when it comes to watch storage, plus don’t brag on social media with wrist photos etc.

The USP of this show is the public access it offers, compared to Salon QP, and that is to be admired. Watch collecting is elitist enough without separating wealthy people from the common herd, as if we are all lesser beings. This show also offers the chance for relative novices in the world of watch collecting to increase their knowledge – always ask technical questions, people in the trade can always politely say they don’t know either!

adult box case collection
Photo by Mister Mister on Pexels.com

GET SERVICING ADVICE BEFORE YOU BUY

Swiss watch repairs are getting harder to do, as the manufacturers slowly but surely put the independent repair shops out of business by restricting spares supply, demanding 60K upfront to buy tools and training etc. There are still lots of skilled people who can service and repair a 25 year old Rolex Daytona, but what they cannot do is obtain a genuine winder and crown for it – Rolex will not sell those spare parts to the trade.

So it makes sense to find out whether your next Swiss watch purchase will have to be sent away to an authorised marque service centre, where they will effectively refurbish that watch – with many parts replaced, even if you didn’t ask for them to be swapped. Some collectors value original patina, faded hands and hour markers etc – it tells a story of genuine wear, whereas a mint 1970s chronograph can look too clean sometimes, almost like a replica.

The show has on-site insurance valuations, plus trade stands selling accessories like straps and bracelets. You’ll find plenty of advice on the latest collecting trends, what’s hot and what’s not. It isn’t a cheap day out at £45 per ticket, but if you consider how much a decent vintage watch in fully serviced condition can cost, then it is a good investment before you spend say 5K on an original Zenith El Primero, or Heuer Autavia.

If you’re feeling lucky then there’s a raffle to win a brand new Daytona worth 20K, with tickets costing £50 each. Ticket bookings and more info here.

Reviews: What Are The Top 3 Best Automatic Watches Under £500

It’s great having a luxury Swiss watch like a Rolex, Breitling, TAG, Patek etc but most of us cannot justify spending over 5K on a watch. More importantly, as UK cities gradually become no-go zones for older people wearing expensive watches, it’s not much fun buying something and then simply locking it away in a safe, gathering dust and costing you an extra £80 a year in bespoke insurance.

So what can you get for under £500 that has a good quality automatic movement, looks stylish and might actually hold its value in the medium term?  Here are Warrington Watch Co’s top three High Street/online winners.

  1. Seiko Presage Cocktail – Sunray Blue Dial. 

      Target Price: £300 

This handsome dress watch has a trusty 4R35 Cal movement, which is visible through the see-thru caseback, so you get that blokey gears n cogs bonus feature. The sunburst blue dial is beautiful on the wrist and the oversize crown adds a practical touch. You can wind this model, as well as give it the Seiko shake.

Comes on a decent metal bracelet with foldover clasp, or a leather strap. Either way, looks handsome with a business suit, or more casual night out clothes. You can haggle one brand new at £300, saving about £50 on the current UK RRP – I know it can be found at this bargain price, cos I just bought one!

This may not ever be a collector’s item like the Pepsi bezel divers watch, or a Seikosha Sportsman, but you’ll always find a buyer willing to give you £100-£150 back if you look after this reliable watch and keep the box and papers, can you really say the same if you buy an Armani/Boss quartz?

2. Tissot Powermatic 80

Target Price: £400

tissot powermatic 80 good buy

A Swiss auto for just 400 quid? Seems too good to be true and in some ways, it is, for the Powermatic 80 movement has some plastic parts inside to save on production costs. The reason for that is that Tissot is part of Swatch and so a little bit of the same tech in the Sistem 51 Swatch auto movement has found its way into the Powermatic 80.

OK, so there’s no regulating lever in the Powermatic 80, which means the balance wheel cannot be adjusted by a watchmaker in the future. That said, the movement does have plenty of metal parts, carried over from the trusty ETA 2824 series, and it is authentically assembled in Switzerland, so you have the Swiss Made logo on your watch, just like someone who has splashed out 3.5K on a TAG Monaco.

The Powermatic 80 looks understated, does the job and although it is undeniably built to a price, you will always find someone who wants a pre-owned Tissot automatic in the future. For that reason alone we think this entry level, everyday Swiss watch is worth a look.

3. Mondaine SBB 40mm Automatic

Target Price: £499

mondaine automatic watch review

For us, the classic Swiss SBB Railway Clock design of the Mondaine is what gives this watch a long lasting appeal. It looks classic because it is a TRUE classic, and that means cash in the attic in years to come.

It also has the Sellita SW200 movement inside its 40mm case, which is exactly the same movement that powers many an Oris, Eterna, TAG Calibre 5, Baume & Mercier, Sinn, Christopher Ward, Bell & Ross and many more brands.

The big difference is that the Mondaine cased Sellita SW200 costs you around 500 quid, whereas the same movement, albeit in slightly modified form, can be found in a Baume & Mercier Clifton that has a £1300 pice tag, or a Hublot Fusion that costs over £4000. In short, you get pretty much the same engine, but save yourself a fortune. The only letdown with the Mondaine watches imho is the rubbishy straps that come as standard, but a nice Hirsch for about £30 will soon sort that out.

Honourable Mentions:

OK, let’s give a tip of the hat to the following bargain automatics which offer reliability, strong resale demand and look half right.

Junghans Max Bill – classic retro lines will never go out of fashion. £490

Seiko 5 Sports – Refreshed styling and chunky cases make the humble 5 a winner £270

Victorinox Swiss Maverick – Outdoor style, rugged build quality, all for £350-ish

Hmilton Khaki Chronograph – Reliable ETA derived movement, big case chrono £400

 

 

Real vs Fake Rolex? Show and Tell

In my trade I get to see plenty of watches, including a few Rolex models, arguably the most faked watch brand in the world. Here are some typical differences between the real deal and a very nice replica.

Check the Rolex crown on the bracelet carefully, as this often where fakers skimp on machine tools, precise finishing and accurate parts design.

The Bracelet.

Don’t start by examining the dial because dials are easy to manufacture by comparison to expensive bracelets. The metal should feel ultra smooth, polished and flawless – no rough edges anywhere. The crown should feel solid, beautifully finished too.

Feel your way around the links; are they loose, do any pins fail to sit totally flush in the links? How does the Rolex swirl look in the folding clasp? Dead straight and evenly etched, or just a bit off somehow?

Older Rolex models from about 16-17 years ago or prior to that weren’t assembled with Uber precision as regards bracelet links, plus you have two decades or more of owner wear. So expect sideways ‘play’ on 1990s Rolex watch links. Modern models are taut, even, incredibly flush fitting by comparison.

Test the clasp, put it on. Does the clasp click shut perfectly? On gold bracelets it’s worth looking closely with a loupe because you may see gold plating or rolled gold wearing off.

Again check the crown is spot-on, not too flat with the prongs at the wrong angle. The engraving should be perfect, not a laser printed effort.

Dial and Crystal

On more recent Rolex models the sapphire crystal has the crown emblem etched in, very faint, but visible with a loupe. Some fakes have this laser printed on as well, so be careful, plus older Rolex watches pre 2001 don’t have the crown crystal.

Check the white inlay on each baton – is it perfect? Likewise every letter on the dial should be free from bleed, or fuzzy edges. Note the wide spacing of Datejust and close lettering on Oyster Perpetual – the two shouldn’t have matching typeface letter spacing.

Now check the dial, assuming the bracelet has passed the feel n shut test of course. Shake the watch gently a few times and the automatic movement should begin to move the second hand. Don’t assume a smooth second hand sweep indicates a genuine Rolex because a Miyota auto inside an Accurist looks just as smooth frankly.

Look closely at the numbers or baton markers on the dial. Are the edges crisp, clean, symmetrical? If there’s a magnification window over the date is that 100 percent true and square?

Use the loupe to read the script on the dial, all of it. You’re searching for a thing typographers used to call ‘bleed’ in the days of hot metal printing, a slightly fuzzy edge to a letter for example.

Run your fingertip over the bezel around the dial and if it’s a dive watch click it around gently. Listen, I mean really listen; gauge the slickness, the precision – Rolex don’t let anything out that isn’t close to perfect in its operation.

Ditto winding crown, although it’s fair to say owners can cause problems with screw down crowns and strip the thread.

When you unscrew the crown it should spring neatly into the winding position. One click further out for the date, second click to move the hands. Push it in again and wind the watch, slowly. Does it feel super smooth, precise and build tension gradually after 15-20 turns? Then carefully screw the crown down, making sure it is dead true in terms of alignment to the case.

Finally, get a professional to open the case and check the movement number. Plus check it’s working perfectly: steady beat, adjusted correctly, no swapped parts – it can happen.

There’s no substitute for this. No assuming that the genuine case and bracelet has the correct Calibre movement. People lie, owners wreck a movement and then get a watchmaker to do a swap, especially on older Rolexes, so always get a look inside before spending thousands.

Box and Paperwork

Easier to fake than the watch. Typical flaws include an incorrect numeral 1 on the warranty cards, flimsy fake tags or spelling/grammar errors within the owners manual.

You should be able to detect a fake from the quality of the bracelet, the dial in detail, plus the winding action, clasp closure etc. Then you had the watch opened by a watchmaker right? But if you aren’t quite sure about the watch then a little giveaway in the paperwork can be the prompt you need to walk away from the deal.

Be lucky 👍

Workshop Report: Basic Refurb on an Orient 3 Star Automatic

orient refurb 1
This Orient had obviously suffered a tough life on ebay – note the dirt stuck to the 11 o’clock baton market under the scratched crystal – but it did run OK, so I started by getting the movement out and giving it a clean.
orient refurb 2
Quite a crudely made movement from Orient, a sub-brand of Seiko’s empire. Note the black marker on the lugs indicating this was a joblot sale at some point.
orient 3 stem
Removing the stem revealed a layer of dirt, plus evidence of over-oiling. All went in the ether bath, once the movement had been cleaned of course. I placed one drop of watch oil on the stem before re-fitting btw, just to make setting the hands that bit slicker – my own view is anything you can do to ease the burden on a setting lever that’s 40 years old is a good move, because if it bends or breaks, a watch like this isn’t worth a total stripdown to repair the keyless works. #Justsaying 
orient refurb 4 glue
I used the plastic die press to get the old crystal out, which shattered – reason was clear, someone had glued a replacement glass in at some stage. Note superglue residue in the bezel rim – all had to be painstakingly removed via toothpick.
orient 5 clean bezel
All glue removed now. While the movement was out overnight, I spent time polishing the steel case as best I could to minimise the 30-35 years of scratches n scuffs. Plus washed off the marker pen number on the lugs, using a dab of acetone on a soft cotton pad.
orient 6 new crystal
If this was a customer watch I would source a flat mineral glass crystal, but a cheap n cheerful acrylic hi-dome from the spares stash does the same job, and just pushes in using the crystal lift tool. Before re-fitting the hands, and putting the movement back in the watch, I used an art brush to gently clean the baton markers and dial – be very careful not to use any solvents on the dial or markers, as the dial coating will simply strip right off in 90% of cases.
orient 7 back
It’s worth spending 15 mins polishing the caseback, picking dirt from the indents, and fitting a new silicone seal, plus a replacement strap. The end result is a decent looking vintage watch that now keeps good time.

If you like what you see and you have a vintage wind-up, or automatic watch that you would like to have fettled, then send a DM on Twitter @warrWatchCo anytime. Prices start at £35 for a basic clean, plus insured post of £6.50.

Or you can email; warringtonwatchco@outlook.com and send as many photos as possible for a quote on repairs.

 

Valjoux 7750: The VW 2.0 Diesel of Watch Movements

People ask me which is the best automatic Swiss watch to buy new, for say under £3000. Tough question. The short answer is buy what you like, because if you don’t love the dial, the colour, hands, bezel, bracelet links – all those details – then you won’t wear the watch much and it will languish in a box or on an automatic winder.

My own favourite is an Omega with George Daniels brilliant co-axial movement inside, such as the Seamaster/Speedmaster range. You can buy one from about £2600 which to me is a bargain for two reasons;

One, the co-axial movement runs at about 2500bph (beats per hour) which is significantly lower than may other Swiss watches that run at over 32,000bph. That means low friction, more time between services and that is a massive saving on the running costs of ownership with a service costing upwards of £600 at an Omega/Breitling/Rolex/Tudor etc dealership.

Two, the Omega Seamaster/Speedmaster is a well established brand name with the wider public, so if you decide to sell there will be a queue of trade, and public, keen to acquire your Omega. Try selling a used Franck Muller, Graham Chronofighter or a Breguet to Joe Public and you’ll find they haven’t really got a clue about the watch and its true value, plus it won’t impress their friends on Facebook, so they won’t offer you decent money.

That’s how it works; watches are a game of oneupmanship for many men, keen to brag that they’re considerably richer than you…

 

longines conquest valjoux

The Valjoux 7750 and All Its Children

OK, let’s move on to the amazing ETA Valjoux 7750 movement. Now this benchmark engine can be found in so many watches, even today, although manufacturers often try to disguise the base movement beneath a range of tweaks, tune-ups and in-house modifications.

Let me explain why the buying the best value Swiss watch featuring a Valjoux 7750 often means shelling out for the least fashionable;

You are investing long-term in the movement, and hoping it will be reliable, easy to service and hold its future value. Bells and whistles like a stronger mainspring, a silicon hairspring (non-magnetic is always useful) and perhaps some beautiful engine-turning/engraving on the bridgework or automatic rotor, is nice to have – but it doesn’t alter the fact that you’ve paid ten times as much for the same watch movement.

Ten times you say, really? Yep. If you buy a used IWC Portugieser, rather than a Hamilton Khaki, then you have probably bought a watch with the same base calibre 7750 movement inside the case. But your IWC will cost you maybe £4000 for those little IWC extra touches, whereas a used Hamilton can be had for £400, because it is seen as a deeply unfashionable brand in watch collecting. The IWC version of the ETA Valjoux 7750 is undoubtedly built to a higher spec, bit like an AMG Merc A Class – but it’s still an A Class, if you’re with me.

Buyers Guide

OK, before you splash out £3000 on a new Swiss watch ask yourself if the movement really matters, because if it does, then you really want to avoid buying something with a Valjoux 7750 base unit in there. You could buy a Tissot, Certina, Victorinox, Longines, Steinhart, Hamilton, Oris and many more for well under £1000, with the 7750 inside. So what will the future collectable value of those watches be? Answer, not likely to be as much as something bespoke, truly unique, and in short supply.

Don’t get me wrong, any watch with a well maintained Valjoux 7750 is a great timepiece – it just isn’t going to be described as being truly special, rare or a future classic in my view.

If you buy a modern Rolex, you get a watch with an in-house movement, not a Valjoux (or a Zenith) inside the case. Plus it’s the most well known watch brand in the world, so you’ll always be able to sell it – or have your Rolex stolen at knifepoint by moped thugs in London.

£3000 will get you a used Breitling Navitimer, with its own in-house 01 movement (manufactured post 2013) which again, is a fashionable watch, although they are expensive to service and look a bit big and gaudy unless you have a large wrist – in my humble opinion.

jaeger gold bumper
Vintage Jaeger Le Coultre bumper auto – not so well sought after by burglars, moped gangs and chav scumbags keen to trade a stolen watch for drug money

 

Assuming I had 3K to spare what would I buy? Probably something like a Jaeger Le Coultre bumper automatic from the 1950s. A mint example, with a gold case would probably be around that price and it ticks all the right boxes for me.

It looks understated and oozes sheer quality, the name itself is not so well known amongst the casual thug/criminal fraternity, so it reduces the risk of mugging or violent attack at home. Plus the bumper auto movement was unique to JLC, it wasn’t hawked around other manufacturers, and I reckon that it will always be truly collectable because of the prestige still attached to the JLC name today. The same cannot be said of many other 1950s Swiss watch brands that have faded into bankruptcy, or merger.

There is much to be said for a low profile when it comes to watch collecting. Let the fashion victims chase the latest Tudor Black Bay deals, or lowest finance rates on a Rolex Daytona. There’s more to it than flash for cash, watches are also inherently beautiful pieces of miniature engineering, history made jewels and metal. Treasure the craft of watchmaking, not just the RRP.

There y’go, be lucky and keep ticking over.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ebauche System Powered 100s of Everyday Swiss Watch Brands

When you start collecting vintage Swiss watches you’ll soon get confused. You see not all Swiss watches are equally good from a particular era, some were built like a Fiat Punto to fit a certain price point, whilst others were hand-crafted examples of the watchmakers art.

Almost everyone knows brands like Omega, Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Breitling, Longines, IWC or Cartier and most watch collectors are aware that Lemania, Minerva, Gruen, Lange & Sohne, Movado, Vacheron Constantin, Zenith, Heuer, Doxa and many more produced some outstanding, landmark watches in the past.

hudson gents 2 crop
Everyday watches like this Hudson often feature A Schild movements

But what about more bread and butter Swiss brands? Here it gets slightly complicated and the reason for that is the well established Swiss ebauche system. What’s an ebauche? It’s a bit like a car engine and gearbox supplied as a complete unit, essentially an ebauche movement was supplied from a manufacturer to various Swiss – or other – brand names, who then added dials, hands, winders & stems, and cased the watch.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIMEPIECES

After the Great Depression hit the world economy in 1929-30, many movement and watch parts makers began to join the ASUAG association. This was a kind of cartel, where the price of movements and watches, plus the tricky business of international market share and distributor networks would all be agreed in private, so that more Swiss manufacturers could survive the bitter headwinds of the hungry 1930s. It worked, and continued to help lots of small Swiss companies stay in the watchmaking game after WW2, until the Japanese quartz revolution in the 1970s changed everything.

In just ten years hundreds of watch brands went bust in Switzerland, and over 60,000 people lost their jobs, as Seiko, Casio and others turned the watch market digital. ASUAG and SSIH hastily re-grouped as Swatch in 1983. Richemont was formed in the late 1980s and brands like Rolex and Patek chose to target the wealthy top end of the market and leave the everyday stuff to the overseas competition.

pix avia 2

So when you’re collecting older mechanical and automatic Swiss watches from 1950-1985, you will find a vast array of brand names. A few made movements in-house, but many used ebauche movements from the ASUAG or SSIH groups because firstly it was cheaper, and secondly, they didn’t want to rock the boat politically. The most common movements you see tend to be ETA (originally Eterna), AS (A Schild) or Ebauches SA brands like Peseux, Unitas, FHF etc. 

ASAUG formed a company called General Watch Co in the early 70s and so you’ll find that brands like Record, Rotary, Oris, Certina, Technos and more all share the same 17/21/25 jewel movements inside them.

montine pixl
Montine were another brand utilising the AS movements to power their range.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD BUY?

For my money anything powered by an ETA or AS movement has the advantage of being fairly common, as millions of watches were made using very similar movements. If you have a serious problem with your 1960s/70s watch then the best way to fix it will be to obtain another working example and cannibalise it for spares. When you sstart collecting the more quirky or slow-selling models, then you can face a real struggle when you want another balance assembly say, or a crystal shaped like TV screen.

If you want to use the watch every day then something like a Vertex Revue, a Rotary 17/21 jewel model or perhaps an Accurist with the ETA 25 jewel movement inside is a good bet. With regular servicing these can all last 50-60 years, which is amazing given the relatively low cost they were brand new compared to say an Omega or Rolex.

Even more obscure brands, like say Hudson, Majex, Damas, Medana, Sandoz and many more all tended to use the same popular movements as better known rivals for their mainstream, run-of-the-mill production.

Buy the watch because you love the look of it, and the dial, hands and case all tell a story of care, maintenance or restoration, not neglect. Peeling dial paint, faded hands and cases lacking plating all betray the casual indifference of a previous owner, so without even looking inside at the movement, you pretty much know that problems lie ahead.

Good luck and keep winding gently 😉

Buyers Guide: Modern Seikos & Citizens vs Old School Automatics

OK, here’s a dilemma; You have £100 to invest in a classic, collectable wristwatch, or maybe two and you check ebay, Fakebook Martketplace, Up a Gumtree, SchlockIt, plus your local Cash related High St shops.

First, forget about modern quartz watches like DKNY, Armani, Rotary, Michael Kors, Skagen, Storm, Cluse, Festina, Boss, Daniel Wellington, Fossil, Ted Baker and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all. These are mass market fashion watches, mostly featuring Miyota movements, prettyy much the same `engine’ as you find inside £25 Sekonda in my shop. Yes really. It’s extremely unlikely that anything with Armani on the dial and a 377 battery inside will ever set a record on the Antiques Greedshow 2058.

Seiko after 1

So choose an automatic. It has gears and cogs inside. But wait – some modern ones like Seiko Kinetics and Citizen Eco-Drives have fancy power cells too. Your wrist movement charges a power cell, which gives the Kinetic extra hours of charge, so you can leave it on a desk for two days and it will still be going. Nice. But the trouble is the Kinetics keep breaking down, just Google `capacitor failure Seiko Kinetic’ if you like.

Genuine parts cost about £40 as a kit, then someone has to fit it – or you can buy all the tools necessary, watch a You Tube video and give it a go yourself. It isn’t that complicated, but without the correct case knife, screwdrivers and tweezers, you’ll probably come unstuck and do some damage to the watch. I certainly did a few years back when learning the basics of fettling watches – and I had the correct tools!

If you don’t like the idea of a possibly dodgy Kinetic, then there’s the Seiko 5 – classic automatics, tough movements, all gears and cogs, featuring a range of dials from the 70s TV square style, to the more modern, shimmering blue one I wear every day for work. It’s scratched, and dented from a collision with a cupboard as I rushed to the workshop, but it still goes. Bought it from a watch fair, £25.

 

pixl seiko 1

ECO-DRIVE IS LIKE A PLANT, IT NEEDS LIGHT, OR DIES A SLOW DEATH

The Citizen Eco-Drive is a modern marvel of tech. Solar power charges the watch and away it goes, and you never need a battery. That’s what the adverts say.

True, but you will need a new battery one day, as they are re-chargeables and eventually, just like a laptop or phone battery, they lose the ability to hold charge. It’s physics and even Citizen cannot defeat physics.

Replacement varies from Eco-Drive model to model, but essentially it’s pretty similar to replacing a normal silver battery in a quartz watch, except the Citizen lithium has a tiny tab on the end of it, which needs to be aligned correctly. Before you go to that expense just try pulling the crown out on your Eco-Drive, and then exposing it to some direct sunshine for about 5 minutes. Give it 20 mins on a cloudy day. The push the crown back in and you might find it starts up again – many Eco-Drives go into a kind of shutdown mode when left abandoned in a box for months, so it’s worth a try.

pix citizen 2

It all adds up to more faffing about in my book, so again, my advice is spend your £100 buying two well looked after old school Citizen automatics, with real rotors spinning around powering up the movement.

These vintage Citizens often feature dazzling, colourful dials and they have a simplicity that means they will give you 50 years of service if you look after the movement and have it cleaned and lubricated once a decade.

You can still pick up excellent examples for £30-£50 each, but be aware that some could be re-painted models from India. Or save your cash up until you can afford a Citizen Bullhead, or a nice NY2300/NY0040 with the red/blue Pepsi style bezel, or the black dial/black case combo.

Always in demand with collectors and most likely, always will be.

Lanco Electronic – The Quick Fix in the Face of The Japanese Invasion

I’m a sucker for project watches. Something lying in a drawer, in need of TLC, or simply unloved, slightly dusty and PX-ed in the shop against something shiny n new-ish.

This Lanco Electronic was a mystery to me, so I took a chance having shaken the watch and seen a few seconds of ticking from the second hand, before it fell lifeless again. Cash offer accepted. But the owner said it needed a battery – odd, I thought, as it said antimagnetic on the caseback, so there was a balance wheel in there. How could a watch need both battery and a balance assembly fettling?

Hmmm, intriguing as a case for Jason King and Department S you may say.

Lanco electronic 1

OK, back at the ranch and I prised the back off, only to see a bizarre arrangement of electronic calculator parts, plus a chunky balance assembly and circlip type adjustment lever, similar to an Omega. Interesting.

Ten minutes Google clicking later I discovered this Electronic was launched in the mid-1970s, no doubt to help the Tissot/Lanco empire strike back against the Seiko/Casio guys busily taking the world watch market by storm with digital models.

But there’s no quartz crystal being vibrated in the Lanco, instead an electronic impulse tells the balance to get busy and the circuit board wizardry sees to the accuracy of the time. A gentle clean up ensued, and to be honest, I didn’t fancy taking it apart as resistors and wires bore me to tears, plus I know bog-all about them, having ditched physics at school in favour of art after the third year. The physics teacher had extremely hairy hands, and it put me off frankly…but that’s another story.

pixl lanco 2

So, long story short, I slotted in a 395 battery and away it went. Magic. Just spinning like a top and happy a sLarry after about 40 years. Bloody marvellous. One new strap and a set of pins later and she’s looking good. Not a museum piece in A1 condition, but a fine example of a rare watch that’s part of the Swiss industry’s roller-coaster story during the supersonic Seventies.

Yours for a mere £75. Probably cost almost that much back in the day. There y’go, not every Swiss watch is a fantastic long term investment. No, some wristwatches are just for fun, and you buy them because you like the look of its shape-shifting browny-gold dial, and the word `Electronic’ emblazoned on it, shouting to the world that Lanco were suddenly hip, with-it, getting on down with Kool and The Gang. Hell yeah.

Charity Shops vs Real Shops – It’s Your Choice

People blame the internet for the decline in the UK High Street, which is partly true. Other factors to consider are the change in lifestyle, with more people owning cheap cars and therefore shopping out of town where parking is free.

Then there’s the charity shops racket. Many employees are volunteers, or people serving community service. Charities are largely exempt from rigorous checks on their accounts – the Charity Commission states on its own website that it hopes to check just one in ten each year. Free rent too – my shop pays £1050 a month.

Once charity shops only sold donated used goods. Not now, much of their stock is brand new and they’re selling on ebay too, using the strapline that sopme proceeds go to charity. I could say the same thing, our shop donates to St Roccos hospice charity, by fitting batteries at £1 a go and passing on customer’s donated watch and jewellery boxes.

I’m all for helping people but charities are now businesses, with CEOs on 100K a year and shop managers earning more than I am. It’s time the government levelled the playing field and insisted that detailed turnover accounts are made public every year, trustees are made directors and subject to checks, and prosecution or striking off. At least 50% of all stock sold, b y any means, should be pre-owned, because it isn’t fair that charities are undercutting businesses that are paying taxes for local roads, schools and the NHS.Then there’s rent – it’s time they paid their way.

So next time you feel like donating old watches or jewellery to a charity shop bear two things in mind;

1. I have several charity shop workers coming into my shop every month trying to sell jewellery, or check something is gold/gold plated – where does that stuff come from I wonder?

2. Charity shops will give you nothing but a temporary halo of goodness when you give away your old gold watch. I will give you money. It’s a tough world and we all live by the kindness of strangers, but in the end, your choice – do you want a High Street, or not?