There are some early quartz watches that fetch incredible prices. If you have an original Bulova Accurton, a Seiko Astron from the late 60s or a Casio calculator watch from the early 80s, then you’ll be happy to know that values are rising.
Of course these are ground-breaking watches of their time, and deserve respect from collectors. Seiko, more than any brand, revolutionised watch sales with their cheaper quartz watches. They were still expensive mond you, I recall buying a basic black Casio digital for £20 back in the early 80s – which was almost half a week’s wages – because the Seiko digital was too fancy at £29.99.
Naturally, that Casio went to the bin decades ago, just like all the digital watches I bought in the 1980s and the quartz watches I bought in the 1990s too. But recently I have bought a few old quartz models, generally the Lanco, Timex and Seiko SQ models, plus a brand new, big 43mm Pulsar I liked just because it had a groovy teal coloured chronograph.
Apart from Seiko SQ50/100 models, I always suggest people avoid the older quartz watches because they aren’t so reliable, or so easy to revive from their comatose state when people leave them in drawers and the batteries split open, then leak that green oxide shit all over the place.
I did buy a running Lanco from the early 70s, which has the Tissot 7067 movement in it, last year. This actually went OK after a little clean of the contacts and a new Renata 301 battery inside. But the time-setting malarkey on this watch is franly a bit silly.
You pull the crown out and it moves the hour hand, like many older Omega quartz watches by the way. But there is no second pull-out position to move the minute hand.
I googled the problem and found that you have to hold the crown down for 5 seconds, then release, then tap it again to make the minute hand twirl around.
Nope. No joy. The most likely cause is that the stepper motor isn’t engaging with the gear wheel to make that magic happen, but considering the Lanco is probably worth under £75 at auction, I cannot be bothered taking it apart.
Another annoyance with this Lance is the usual Tissot/Omega/Lanco tension ring holding the crytal in, and it is a front-loader diassembly routine. So crystal off, hands off, crown n stem out etc and then release the movement. I will be blunt, I hate that obtuse thinking by the Tissot/Lanco group. Timex did the same thing for decades.
Basically it was a ploy to create work for their authorised repair network by making life difficult for the amateur watch fettler. The more you mess with old crystals held in by thin rings of metal, the more likely you are to scratch dials or break the tension rings or hands.
So yep, messing with old quartz watches is a good way to end up hunting for rare spare crystals, hands and tension rings too. All these delicate parts often rust into position after 50 years, or simply get brittle and begin to crumble away.
My solution to the hand-setting problem was to disconnect the battery and wait until exactly 2.41pm to re-fit and slide the connector tab across it, since that was where the minute hand had stopped at.
So I have a running Lanco quartz, kinda nice looking, new battery in place and a neat sort of Tiger’s Eye effect on the dial as well. Like many old watches, it isn’t perfect and it will probably never be worth more than £100 even if I live to be 90. By that time everyone will have a chip inserted in their arm that tells the time, reads your bad thoughts and automatically emails the Solyent Green factory when your fridge is out of vegan ping meals.
Enjoy your watches I say, it’s later than you think.
Many watch fans know and love Seiko MOD watches. There are several specialists out there making stunning Prospex/SKX or NH35 powered watches with a variety of beautiful dials, bezels and hands. It’s a cult thing that is definitely growing fast and it isn’t unusual to see some Seiko MOD dive models on eBay for over £700. Yep, not a genuine new Seiko, a refurbished, pre-owned model for 700 notes.
So we wondered, will the same process work its way through the older Swiss watches available online? Then we stumbled on Vinmov watches in Hungary and they are doing some very cool stuff. In fact the thing we love about Vinmov is that they’re showing off classic Swiss movements that thave been tucked away behind steel casebacks for the last 40-60 years.
So you can but a stunning Omega Vinmov, with a see-thru caseback showing the 552 or 471 series automatic movements, in all their copper-rose glory. If you love watches then you probably admire classic Omega movements for their exceptional reliability and durability. Plus they often look pretty good, and that cannot be said of some later Omega automatic movements. The watches come in 40mm cases mostly, which is an ideal way to rehome vintage movements we reckon and give them a more modern appeal, rather than the original 34-37mm case sizes that many 60s/70s Swiss watches favoured.
The dials are almost all punchy black plates with orange or red accents, plus a hefty black bezel set with dive minute numbers. Some, like the blue Zenith with stars on the dial and yellow accents, don’t really do it for us. They look a little too 1970s hotel carpet. The hands are new and the lume is bright too, which is something you don’t get on the older 60s/70s Swiss dress watches in the main.
But Vinmov has a wide range of designs and we love some of their Omega, Longines, Buren and there’s a gold coloured Favre Leuba that really hits the spot in our eyes. You get a manufacturer warranty with these vintage MOD watches, which is an advantage over buying old watches on eBay, as generally you have 14 days refund time, and then you own it – problems n all. We like what Vinmov are doing here, giving new life to older Swiss movements that may well be salvaged from unpopular Presentation watch cases, or simply a case and dial that has degraded over time.
If you want to build your own MOD watch then Vinmov also have plenty of older, and very clean, vintage movements for sale on their own. Prices for complete watches start at about £250.
The circular economy never looked so good. More here.
Yep, we love a vintage styled modern watch here at Northern Watch Co magazine. The Undone Killy – nope still not playing the SHOUTY CAPITALS game – is a winner for us with its wonderfully weathered dial finish
The UNDONE Vintage Killy gets a refreshing transformation from founder, Michael Young. This time, Michael ventures one step further into the world of vintage watch design by replacing the existing dial with a patinated one, and a unique strap made out of Katazome fabric.
UNDONE has managed to set itself apart byintroducing customizable, made to order, vintage-inspired watches at affordable prices. In addition, the Vintage Killy offers the best of both worlds–distinctive old school form and excellent function. The Designer’s Draft Edition, limited to only 150 pieces worldwide, has taken the vintage design to the next level. There’s a meca-quartz movement inside that vintage case, plus it has a box crystal.
This is a neat touch as it captures the vibe of the old plexiglass crytals found on vintage watches when plastic was actually deemed cool, and er…progressive. Yes really, people liked its ability to take a knock without shattering like mineral glass. The Killy also has a Katazome fabric strap, which is kinda trick, as paste is applied to the strap via a stencil. You get a sort of mottled effect, which works very well with the overall pre-loved feel of this one.
Priced at $395 the Undone Killy offers a beautiful take on the vintage chronograph vibe. For purists the quartz movement will be a minus point but if you love vintage and want accurate timekeeping too, then this one has the lot.
The standard Killy model is on the Undone website for £229 by the way. More here.
Two recent models from Timex that we just spotted on their UK website. OK yeah, we know they launched before Christmas but we were double busy.
First up is the Todd Snyder quartz Q model. This is part of the revival Q seies, taking inspiration from the Timex quartz watches of the 80s. They have that handy feature where you can change the battery yourself with a 20p coin, which is nice.
“The next evolution of our much-loved Q Timex 1979 Reissue watch, a special edition made exclusively for Todd Snyder adds a black dial with red accents and a new stainless-steel bracelet to the iconic features of the original — a rotating bezel, functional battery hatch, day-date feature, luminant hands and domed acrylic crystal. It’s everything you already loved, and then some.” says Timex.
Then there’s the Nigel Cabourn naval style watch.
“Following multiple sold-out collaborations with British menswear designer Nigel Cabourn, we’ve teamed up with the brand once again to give you the Naval Officers Watch. This watch draws inspiration from timepieces worn by Royal Navy captains on Arctic convoys in the North Sea during WWII, with a specially finished case made to emulate sea-air corrosion, a nod to the weathered look of military boats and seafaring equipment of the era. Featuring a white military-style dial with red and black markings, and presented with two straps in a military-style carrying case, this collaboration delivers a real tribute to wartime functionality as well as rugged, ageless style.”
We like that it’s a watch in a tin, rather like old school tobacco, pencils or even mints – yeah, chocolates and mints used to be sold openly in tins. Plastic packaging was a distant dream back in 60s Britain. This retro delight retails at £159. More info at Timex UK.
Here’s the word from Frederique Constant, as they launch a new vintage style chronograph in partnership with About Vintage and we have to say, we love this understated design, nice beefy pushers too.
The 1988 Flyback Chronograph is a redesigned version of Frederique Constant’s famous Flyback Chronograph Manufacture. As they began the redesigning, About Vintage particularly had one thing in mind:
“About Vintage is an ode to the classics, a humble celebration of remarkable achievements in horology. As we redesigned the classic Flyback Chronograph, we were constantly reminded of why we began this whole journey of watchmaking. That is how we came up with the new design; the original timepiece with a touch of Scandinavian simplicity and vintage-inspired elements.”, says Thomas Andersen, co-founder at About Vintage.
Exclusivity on a new level
When Frederique Constant and About Vintage decided to join forces on this new timepiece, it was in fact not the first time for the two watch makers to share visions.
Back in 2018 they designed the 1988 Moonphase which became the most exclusive timepiece in About Vintage’s collection. However, this has changed as they welcomed the new 1988 Flyback Chronograph, since this is more exclusive both in limitation, quality and price.
Love your Citroen? Get the watch, T-shirt and a miniature model too. Citroen UK has sent us info on their official car themed watch. There y’go;
This September, Citroën Lifestyle is showcasing some of its newest items available to buy online. Whether customers are in search of some unique gift ideas or loyal fans, looking to add to their collection, the e-boutique has something for everyone.
CITROËN AMI MINIATURE Ami – Citroën’s 100% electric urban mobility object, has just passed the 1,700 customer orders mark in France. For enthusiasts or owners of Ami, the model is now available as a miniature, on a scale of 1/43. 37 €
OUI ARE FRENCH ICE WATCH To avoid missing an appointment, the Oui Are French Ice Watch is a must-have accessory, says Citroen. This collaboration between Ice Watch and Citroën Lifestyle, offers French colours and features a basic quartz movement inside.
The Ice watch retails at 70 euros, which is frankly ridiculous for a watch brand that can be bought at car boot sales for a tenner. But you do get that authentic Citroen design, so er…
yeah, we aren’t really selling you the dream here, are we?
MEN’S CITROËN ORIGINS HOODIE This Citroën Origins hoodie boasts the original CITROËN logo stamped on the chest. Its fleece lining will warm up those who feel the cold and its softness provides maximum comfort. Five men’s sizes available from S to XXL. 45 €
MEN’S TYPE H ORIGINS HOODIE Now this one we like, as it has that vintage flair, plus a great logo. All coffee lovers know the 50s style Citroen vans, as they ply their trade from Shoreditch to Wilmslow. Nothing says `I can afford a £7 Colombian mocha with a salted caramel twizzle stick in the froth’ like this sweatshirt.
Fans of the Type H, the legendary commercial vehicle from Citroen’s history, can now show off their passion for the model with this men’s hoodie, fitted with a fleece lining. Its attractive orange colour is a plus point for us.
If you’re a baseball fan then the latest Oris automatic is a collectors item. Buying one also makes a real difference as some of the profits will go to the Clemente Foundation. The watch is a stainless steel, 40mm wide model, with an Oris 754 Calibre inside. It retails for 1850CHF, or about £1570 sterling. Limited to 3000 pieces, it also has a date hand indicator, rather than a date window.
Here’s some background on Roberto Clemente;
From humble beginnings, Roberto’s life changed quickly. At 17, he began his career in the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League and a year later moved to the U.S. to join the Brooklyn Dodgers organisation. In the years that followed, he would overcome discrimination because of the colour of his skin, and become a baseball legend. In 1955, he made his Major League debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he would stay for 18 seasons. He was an exceptional athlete, with a mighty throwing arm.
He won two World Series with the Pirates and became a 12-time winner of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, before reaching 3,000 hits with the last hit of his career in September 1972, making him the first Latin American player to reach the mark.
During the following winter, Nicaragua was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, leaving as many as 11,000 people dead and 300,000 without a home. Roberto, who had been involved in community work throughout his career, sent aid, but discovered his shipments had gone missing in the chaos, almostcertainly diverted by corrupt local officials.
He insisted on accompanying the next shipment to make sure it reached the people who needed it most, and on December 31, he boarded a plane. It would never reach its destination. Roberto Clemente died, serving others, aged just 38. The plane crashed into the sea and his body was never found. But his name lived on. In 1973, Roberto was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The same year, the Commissioner’s Award, awarded annually to a Major League player for their work in the community, was renamed the Roberto Clemente Award. And Roberto’s number 21 was retired by the Pirates. In 1993, the Roberto Clemente Foundation was established with a mission to ‘Build Nations of Good’. Headed by his widow Vera and now his son Luis Clemente, it continues his proud legacy of bringing real change.
The thing I admire most about the watchmakers of the past is their determination to solve what must have seemed like incredibly complicated problems. Take this Strigel verge watch from the 1760s for example.
It was no easy task making glass back then. No Pilkington float method had been invented, so glass had to be blown into shapes by skilled people, then carefully cut and trimmed to fit something like a pocket watch bezel. That’s why many 18th century pocket watches have `bulls eye’ glass – they had to cut it away from the blower which left a tiny flat top.
This particular example is typical of the era. The silver cases, usually pair-cased, would have been bought in batches from a silversmith in London. The reason watches were encased like this was that in the 1760s there were two modes of transport for the wealthy man about town; water craft and horseback. He would not walk very far in a country like Britain, which was largely lawless, with no roads as we understand them. So a silver watch – which at today’s prices would have cost about £10,000-£15,000 would have basically said to Highwayman, `come and get it boys.’
So a watch movement had to be protected not only by a tightly shut inner case, but another pair of silver cases to keep out seaspray, pouring rain, or the stench of the gin-soaked poor begging at your britches. This work was done by hand, not by machine, so imagine how many hours it took to get a perfectly set of halves to close upon the watch itself.
The verge movement has sturdy square columns joining the plates, which are like minature columns on a mansion – no coincidence that the architecture matches those grand houses and follies of the era, for a watch was a statement that you had made your money, serious money. Engraved plates state the makers name because brands didn’t exist then, everyone had a reputation, like Harrison, Mudge, Breguet etc.
Dials and hands would be provided by an enamelling shop, the watchmaker concentrated on the movement. Imagine the basic lathes and drilling tools used, and how difficult it was to align hand-cut gear wheels, and match pins and axles to their correctly sized holes in the plates. No wonder it was a week’s work to assemble one movement, although many master watchmakers had apprentices making kitted plates and gear wheels in a sort of production line.
Typically housed in a freezing attic, with overhead windows for natural light, the watchmakers of the past had a tough life. Many made clocks as well, which of course demanded great care in transport and installation at some slave/sugar/silk/pepper trader’s newly built mansion in the sunny shires. Not many artisan watchmakers lived a long life like Thomas Harrison, the inventor of the marine chronometer, many only had 20-25 years of work before the untreatable illnesses of the times, a fire, bankruptcy or a family bereavement effectively ended their career.
Could you persevere in spite of everything back in 1766? Survive on no benefits, no central heating, and eat bland, rancid food and drink foul water or home brewed ale or gin? Probably not. We have it easy now and watches, superbly engineered and finished, are relatively cheap compared to wages. Enjoy these good times, they won’t last.
Some new retro styled automatics from Rotary, marking their 125th anniversary this year. Now let’s be clear Rotary is no longer a Swiss company, but if you fancy an automatic watch, with sapphire crystal and some nice vintage style then you cannot really go wrong for £249.
These are limited to 300 examples in each style by the way.
There’s a lume green model, canvas strap, vintage luminous hands. Two crosshair designs – one is sold out already, the gold plated one is still on sale. In fact we found the crosshair auto with champagne dial online at £224 – below the Rotary RRP. Go figure.
There are some new Ultra Slim quartz models out this year too, although they don’t really ding our bell here at The Northern Watch Co. Give us a vintage Les Originales any day, great watch with an ETA movement in there.
It’s interesting to note that Rotary now claim their watches are water resistant, not waterproof. For clarity, only dive watches are waterproof – everything else will let water sneak in through the winding crown eventually, especially if you swim in the sea every day – salt loves to attack those silicone seals behind the crown and stem. Just saying, you don’t have to sue us..