How Many Watches Does Ed Sheeran Own?

A short while ago I’d never heard of the talented guitarist/musician and fellow Brit, Ed Sheeran. He first came to my attention during a performance at the London Victoria Secret fashion show when I noticed him wearing a familiar looking vintage Rolex watch. Like his fellow guitarists and watch collectors Eric Clapton and John Mayer before him, he was wearing a steel Rolex Daytona Ref.6239 with Paul Newman dial on a black bund strap (just as Paul Newman himself had done in the early 1970’s) while performing on stage. Unlike the other two more experienced watch fanatics, Ed was sporting the black dial version, still, credit for originality. 

 Close up showing the 1960's steel Rolex Daytona, probably Ref.6239, with black Exotic dial, known as the Paul Newman. Worn on a bund strap.

Close up showing the 1960's steel Rolex Daytona, probably Ref.6239, with black Exotic dial, known as the Paul Newman. Worn on a bund strap.

After seeing Ed photographed at the recent Grammy awards held in Los Angeles I checked to see if he was still wearing the Daytona, alas no. Only this time he could be seen with a Patek Philippe Ref.5980/1A-014 modified with PVD coating and a green glass, an abomination of a watch that destroys one of most appealing PP sports models produced. 

Pre 2015 Grammy's wearing the 'abomination watch' (aka Patek Philippe Ref.5980/1a-014 with aftermarket PVD and green glass)

 Post 2015 Grammy's wearing his Richard Mille RM030 limited edition. Pictured with John Mayer who was wearing a steel Patek Philippe perpetual calendar split-second chronograph Ref.5004A.

Post 2015 Grammy's wearing his Richard Mille RM030 limited edition. Pictured with John Mayer who was wearing a steel Patek Philippe perpetual calendar split-second chronograph Ref.5004A.

Obviously the modified Patek is nothing special to report and I suddenly suspected his love of watches was more of a ‘where to spend my new-found money’ interest, rather than a real passion for wristwatches. Only in another picture taken later the same night, he was wearing a Richard Mille RM030 limited edition of 30 examples for the America’s. I confess usually when wealthy young men, particularly celebrities, buy modified Patek Philippe watches or Richard Mille, they are often put into the ‘more money then sense’ category, but something about young Mr. Sheeran seemed different. The only people I know who change their watch that fast (usually to match their clothes) are either paid to do so (Neil Patrick Harris at the Oscars) or true watch fanatics, and this got me searching. The more images of Ed Sheeran I found, the more watches I saw him wearing. I am still not sure if he has a true love for the subject or just showing how much many he is making, but will give him the benefit of the doubt, for now. Below are just a few of the watches he has been photographed wearing, bearing in mind most collectors wear one watch, then change it and wear another, it is unusual to see someone change their watch so regularly and brings me to ask the question; If those were just the images I found of him from a quick search; how many watches does he actually own?

Patek Philippe steel Aquanaut dual-time Ref.5164/a

Patek Philippe white gold perpetual calendar chronograph with blue dial Ref.5270G-014

Patek Philippe steel Nautilus annual calendar Ref.5726/a

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref.5980/1a-014, aftermarket PVD + green glass

Richard Mille RM011 Carbon (wears it on either red or black strap)

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore PVD coated steel with ceramic bezel, nicknamed the 'Volcano'

Richard Mille RM030 Carbon, LE of 30 for the America's 

At the Brit Awards after winning album of the year, looking slightly worse for wear with his Richard Mille RM035-01 NADAL in NTPT case


I haven’t heard who is advising him regarding his watch purchases but given he is a young famous Brit living in Suffolk and has a penchant for Richard Mille, I have a very good idea. 


Company Review: ABC WatchWerks


ABC WatchWerks are a watch servicing and restoration company based in downtown Los Angeles. I first came across them as a recommendation from a collector who raved about their work, he had a 1960's Submariner he wanted the hands re-lumed on to match the indexes and having seen the 'before' and 'after', can see why he thinks of them so highly. ABC also pride themselves on being able to re-cut a vintage sport Rolex case, removing only a fraction of material to bring the chamfer back to life and give it that 'unpolished' look.

1971 Rolex Submariner Ref.5513 'before'

Above is a 1971 Rolex Submariner Ref.5513 I gave to my wife when we fist met, she wore it daily for a while including holidays, swimming, the beach, everywhere. Alas as it hadn't been serviced for a few years prior to taking a dip in the pool and stopped working shortly after. As my wife loves her vintage to look like new and it wasn't going to be sold anytime soon, I decided to give it to ABC to see what they could do with the case. Below is the result.

Picture showing the reworked shoulders

They managed to replace the crystal with an original version (it had a service replacement on it prior that sits slightly higher at the edge) and, although it remains untested in the real world, they assure me is waterproof. The case edges are once again sharp and although the width of the chamfer is larger than the original would have been, they did a great job considering what they had to work with.  Personally, I prefer the slightly aged look of a vintage Rolex and don't mind some wear, I have owned unpolished examples before but it is a word that today gets used all too frequently and usually unjustifiably by sellers, it also means you really can't wear the watch daily as it's heartbreaking to put dents into the case. 

Beware of sellers advertising unpolished cases that have actually been re-cut, although very good, the chamfer shown above is too wide for a factory finish on a 5513.

Of course there will always be those unscrupulous people that will take a worn case, have it re-cut and sell to an unsuspecting buyer as unpolished. Hopefully the pictures here showing what can be done to a case to bring it back to life will serve as an example of a re-cut case.

ABC aren't just restricted to vintage, they do great work on modern watches including Rolex as well as the highly complex Audemars Piguet Royal Oak cases. Below is the before and after picture of an AP they did for me that had a dent in the shoulder.

AP prior to visiting ABC with dent to the lower right shoulder clearly visible

The same watch post ABC WatchWerks. The dent has been completely removed without any loss of definition.

ABC apparently undertake work for clients internationally and, although they certainly aren't cheap, they are very professional and will discuss the project with you prior to determine what you want done. For those that visit in person you might be in for a surprise, all the guys are very young, fit and very unlike almost every watchmaker I know. I couldn't help but smile when one of them, Edvi, kindly dropped off a watch to me at Urth Cafe in Hollywood and pulled up in a bright blue Porsche 911. Not your average watchmakers set of wheels. Or is it?


The best watch store in the world?

My profession allows me frequent travel to some of the most prestigious cities in the world, one of those cities and a personal favorite is Singapore. One of the reason's I like the city so much, apart from the fabulous chili crab and cereal prawns, is the MalMaison Hour Glass watch store.

  MalMaison can be found at 270 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238857

MalMaison can be found at 270 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238857

The MalMaison (my house) store is like no other watch I have seen, yes the watches it carry's can be found in other locations, but the 17th century European influence, the accessories and the overall experience is very different. On the ground floor as you walk in are the usual Hublot/Brieitling brands intermixed with constantly changing independent jewelry, mens accessories and other interesting paraphanlia; the last time I visited they had the large IkePod hourglass and MB&F music machines on display. Adjacent rooms host the Rolex and Patek Philippe showrooms. Not to be missed, on display in the Rolex room is a cabinet dedicated to vintage sports models (not for sale), all are in excellent condition and carefully curated, most you won't see anywhere else. 

 Alas the stella dial Rolex displayed are not for sale

Alas the stella dial Rolex displayed are not for sale

Similarly the Patek Philippe showroom has one of the unique closonee enamel clocks on view, their version with monkeys, (not for sale), that you rarely find. It would have been good to see a small collection of vintage Patek's in keeping with the Rolex room but perhaps in future? The rear room, as you pass the faux fireplaces and bespoke shoes and ties, houses the more independent manufactures such as Audemars Piguet, Urwerk and Richard Mille. The upper floor offers rare edition books for viewing and perfume as well as Harry Winston and Piaget watches and jewelry. The perfume testing area is really quite unique; there are large tubular floor to ceiling pillars each with a door, you spray the perfume inside the open pillar to get more real-life scent, once finished the door is close, extractor fan activated and the pillar ready, scent free, for the next round of spray. Also upstairs is a circular private room with night-sky decorated ceiling, the stars apparently depicted the view from the owners yacht.

 Shown on the right are three versions of Paul Newman Daytona 

Shown on the right are three versions of Paul Newman Daytona 

For anyone with a love of watches the store is well worth a visit, the staff are friendly and attentive (the same person will attend to you throughout the store) and it's honestly worth it just to see the watch-related adornments and vintage Rolex on display

 

 

WATCHES: IN SEARCH OF THE COOLEST TRAVEL WATCH

PART 3.  JAEGER LECOULTRE MASTER DIVER NAVY SEALS

 Very useful before taking the plunge, the two patented compression crowns have a visual warning to let you know if they aren't sealed.

Very useful before taking the plunge, the two patented compression crowns have a visual warning to let you know if they aren't sealed.

Released in a limited edition of 1500 examples with a 44mm titanium case, the Jaeger LeCoultre diving alarm, apparently designed in collaboration with the US Navy SEAL’s, has all the requirements of a great travel watch. It’s light, understated, automatic with a date, features the essential rotating bezel with time-elapse and has the additional benefit of an alarm. An alarm when travelling personally I find important, sure you can use your phone but often there isn’t any power to charge it and there are always, without fail, those early mornings you need to wake to catch a flight, drive or simply watch the sunrise.  Similarly, as previously mentioned, a rotating bezel calibrated to 60 minutes (or a chronograph) allows you to time your dive or how long you've been out sailing or kayaking for.

 The uni-directional rotatable bezel calibrated to 60 minutes is designed for diving under water, but also useful when timing odd things, like how long you have been on the water.

The uni-directional rotatable bezel calibrated to 60 minutes is designed for diving under water, but also useful when timing odd things, like how long you have been on the water.

At 44mm it isn’t a small watch and I can see why they made it 42mm for later versions (without alarm) but that said it doesn’t get in the way and I didn’t mind the size once used to it. The build quality is very good, as you would expect from Jaeger, however that said the bezel feels a little ‘flimsy’, like it could come off in my hand at any time and the bezel insert is just stuck on with glue. As the insert rises above the metal housing it sits on, it isn’t difficult, as I discovered, to knock it off. Hopefully Jaeger has a large supply of spare bezel inserts for this model as I can see many owners needing one. 

 This would be a bad time to lose the bezel insert.

This would be a bad time to lose the bezel insert.

The patented compression crowns, although perhaps a little bulky, are brilliant. They twist closed quickly and with a visual white/red indicator to tell you if they are locked or not it’s easy to check before jumping in the water. The one major complaint I had with the watch was the date/alarm setting, as they are both set from the same crown, the date in one direction and the alarm in the other, it’s easy, too easy, to move the crown the wrong way and change the date when you are setting the alarm. The watch does have a little indicator with correct direction but when you are bumping along the road in an open truck and informed departure the following day is 0500, my first reaction is to set my alarm before I forget, a quick twist gets me to alarm setting mode but then one wrong turn and I change the date, I then have to revolve through 30 days of the calendar to reset it again before setting the alarm. Maybe it’s just me but this happened a lot and a few times I was unaware I had changed the date forward, potentially disastrous when traveling.

 This picture shows the red arrows indicating, when visible from the dial view, the crowns aren't locked. Note the tiny writing on the upper crown to show which direction to turn the crown for date/alarm setting.

This picture shows the red arrows indicating, when visible from the dial view, the crowns aren't locked. Note the tiny writing on the upper crown to show which direction to turn the crown for date/alarm setting.

PROS

·      Lightweight, understated well proportioned layout

·      Model has an almost vintage look with a grey bezel

·      Reliable automatic (Cal.956) movement with date

·      Mechanical alarm is audible enough to wake you up, even at 3am after a few beers

·      Large luminous hands and markers are easy to see at night

·      Factory supplied easily changeable straps give you plenty of options

CONS

·      The date and alarm set from the same crown, too easy to change the date by mistake

·      Jaeger LeCoultre signature is on the same disc as the alarm indicator so can look a little ‘odd’ as the logo rotates depending on when you set the alarm

·      Bezel feels flimsy and insert is only secured by glue (!?) making it far too easy to knock off

·      44mm case can seem a little large

 The watch looks as good on land as it does in the water, shown here with factory supplied NATO strap.

The watch looks as good on land as it does in the water, shown here with factory supplied NATO strap.

The Jaeger LeCoultre diving alarm Navy SEAL’s is a great travel watch, possibly the best so far. I’m sure with time I would manage not to change the date every time I set the alarm and really love the understated titanium case and almost vintage look the bezel provides. The bezel, or sometimes lack of, is a big concern; I was lucky enough to find my insert undamaged in the car but might not be next time. Still, it has a really different and very cool look about it, almost, if there is such a term, ‘understated luxury’; a bit like a matt-black Aston Martin. I can honestly imagine someone in the US military wearing this watch and former US President Bill Clinton has been spotted with one.

CELEBRITY WATCH OWNERS- THE MEN'S TOP TEN

What do you want when you have it all? Looks, money, fame, the life of a celebrity can seem an enviable one. With so many celebrities today selling their name and image to promote a certain watch brand, below is my top ten list of famous men that demonstrate a passion for watches over money.

 1. Eric Clapton wearing his Patek Philippe Ref.5970G with special order dial

1. Eric Clapton wearing his Patek Philippe Ref.5970G with special order dial

1. In the world of watches Eric Clapton is as famous for his collection as he is for his music. A truly dedicated and passionate watch enthusiast he was always seeking the rarest and finest examples, having sold his watch collection with Christies New York in the early 2000's he has slowed down buying vintage examples, although can still be seen wearing exceptional modern watches. Shown here wearing a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph Ref.5970G with special order dial featuring fancy Arabic numerals.  I have heard a few stories about Eric Clapton over the years, my favorite two are when a dealer was wearing very rare a Rolex Milgauss Ref.6543 while shopping, as he walked into a store he heard someone say “Nice watch” and turned around to see Eric Clapton. Another is when the collector wanted to bid on a watch in Bonhams London, just to make sure he didn’t miss out he sent an employee to sit through the entre sale in the front row until the watch he wanted, the last lot,  was offered. As the auctioneer started bidding they raised their paddle and kept it there until the hammer came down.

 2. Charlie Sheen and his Patek Philippe Ref.2497, according to his Twitter account the only watch that tells Warlock time...? 

2. Charlie Sheen and his Patek Philippe Ref.2497, according to his Twitter account the only watch that tells Warlock time...? 

2. Charlie Sheen's love of watches become public for the wrong reasons when an adult performer relieved him of his platinum Patek Philippe Ref.5970 in a New York hotel. At the time the watch was very hard to obtain and Charlie became irate when he noticed it was missing, the girl locked herself in the bathroom until security arrived and the world knew he really loved his watches, alas he also loved his porn stars. Charlie currently has one of the largest and most impressive vintage Patek collections of any ‘celebrity’ collector and rarely buys any other brand. His twitter account, which earnt a new world-record at reaching 2 million followers, was set-up by dealer Robert Maron and the first tweet showed the above Ref.2497 watch with the quote ‘the only watch that tells warlock time’. He loves his watches so much apparently he accepted a job in Japan filming an advert just so he could use the fee to buy another one. 

 3. John Mayer wearing a Patek Philippe Ref.5004R/1 with special order black dial featuring a tachymeter, note the matching Patek Calatrava cufflinks

3. John Mayer wearing a Patek Philippe Ref.5004R/1 with special order black dial featuring a tachymeter, note the matching Patek Calatrava cufflinks

3. I have read John Mayer wants to be known in watch-circles as a respected watch expert, not just a famous musician. Alas his recent legal action with Robert Maron (settle out of court) over his purchase of Rolex Daytona’s with fake dials didn’t help him (there is a famous fake dial Paul Newman Rolex nicknamed the ‘Mayer dial’ by dealers.) Apparently he has a massive collection of vintage Rolex as well as some important Patek Philippe. In the picture above, if you can draw yours eyes away from Katy Perry’s breasts, he is wearing a (probably) unique rose gold Patek Philippe perpetual calendar split second chronograph on a bracelet with special-order black tachymeter dial. The watch was one of three ordered to the same specifications but in different metals by an important collector, Charlie Sheen owns the yellow version and the platinum with blue dial was sold by Christies Hong Kong in 2014. John Mayer is also listed as a columnist on the popular watch website Hodinkee. 

 4. Arnold Swarzeneggger. Yes, believe it or not, Arnie loves his watches almost as much as his tanks. Here is is wearing the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 'End of Days' limited edition released in 1999, a model Arnie had an input in designing.

4. Arnold Swarzeneggger. Yes, believe it or not, Arnie loves his watches almost as much as his tanks. Here is is wearing the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 'End of Days' limited edition released in 1999, a model Arnie had an input in designing.

4. Both Arnold Swarzenegger and Audemars Piguet deny any money has directly changed hands and therefore he is not a paid ambassador for the brand, instead both maintain he has a personal affection for the brand and promotes them whenever possible, in return the company donates money to Arnold’s charity 'After School All-Stars'. He is on this list as Arnold was directly responsible in the development of the 1999 Audemars Piguet End of Days limited edition, a PVD coated black watch with yellow numerals that changed the way we look at luxury watches. He recently launched his own watch, a monster of a piece based on the dials in his personal tank (yes, I said a tank). Shown above wearing the End of Days model. As well as his love of AP Arnie can be seen wearing Panerai, possibly due to the influence of our number 5 celebrity watch-lover, Sylvester Stallone.

 5. Sylvester Stallone. Sly has been a real advocate of large-diameter luxury sports watches, shown here wearing the Panerai PAM00341 'Egyptian Military 8 day' with a 60mm diameter case, made in limited edition of 500.

5. Sylvester Stallone. Sly has been a real advocate of large-diameter luxury sports watches, shown here wearing the Panerai PAM00341 'Egyptian Military 8 day' with a 60mm diameter case, made in limited edition of 500.

5. A few might disagree with including Sylvester Stallone on this list since, like Arnold, he isn’t a collector par-se, however, like Arnold, Stallone had a love of a particular brand, Panerai, and was influential in its success. Stallone discovered Panerai in the company’s early years and famously wore a model in the 1996 movie ‘Daylight’. His apparent genuine passion for Panerai and his promotion of the brand within celebrity circles means most of the actors in the movie ‘Expendables 3’ wear Panerai watches, his pal Jason Stratham is also a fan and Sly has given Arnold a Panerai on more than one occasion. He has recently converted to wearing Richard Mille, possibly in the hope he would do the same for them as he has for the Panera brand. In the same way Stallone was inducted into the boxing hall of fame for his portrayal as fictional character Rocky, and therefore promoting the sport, he deserves to be on this list for his continued drive and passion in promoting the luxury sport watch industry.

 6. Orlando Bloom has previously sold a number of personal watches with proceeds going to charity. Pictured above wearing one of the watches stolen by the 'Bling Ring', a very rare 1950's Rolex Milgauss Ref.6543 with tropical dial.

6. Orlando Bloom has previously sold a number of personal watches with proceeds going to charity. Pictured above wearing one of the watches stolen by the 'Bling Ring', a very rare 1950's Rolex Milgauss Ref.6543 with tropical dial.

6. Orlando Bloom once said he didn’t like to talk about his passion for collecting watches as it was one of the few aspects of his life he wanted to keep private. Alas, the bling-ring changed that. Orlando famously had a small but valuable collection of watches, mostly vintage Rolex, stolen from his Hollywood home. The consequence was, suddenly everyone knew about his private passion. He has apparently been buying for a long time, or rather had been, with a particular interest in vintage Rolex, especially the Explorer model. Orlando is currently an ambassador for British watch company Bremont, although continues to be spotted wearing various brands, most recently a pink gold Panerai. Shown here wearing a very rare 1958 Rolex Milgaus Ref.6541 with a brown 'tropical' dial on a NATO strap.

 7. Who would believe Rolling Stone drummer Charlie Watts was a pocket watch collector?

7. Who would believe Rolling Stone drummer Charlie Watts was a pocket watch collector?

7. Yes, Charlie Watts, the drummer from one of the most cult rock bands in the world, the Rolling Stones, is a passionate pocket watch collector. Believed to favor Cartier from the 20's/30's, he apparently has display cabinets in his home with the watches set on stands to view his vast (100+) collection.

 8. Daniel Craig. Although the Bond star was the first to openly snub Rolex in the Movie 'Casino Royale' with the scripted line "Beautiful watch, Rolex?" to which Craig replies "Omega". In his personal life the actor prefers the later, vintage, not modern.

8. Daniel Craig. Although the Bond star was the first to openly snub Rolex in the Movie 'Casino Royale' with the scripted line "Beautiful watch, Rolex?" to which Craig replies "Omega". In his personal life the actor prefers the later, vintage, not modern.

8. Shortly after Daniel Craig was featured as the new James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ the actor caused a bit of a stir when he was spotted on several occasions wearing vintage Rolex watches, including the above Daytona Ref.6263 and also apparently a 1950’s Rolex Submariner Ref.6538 big crown, ironically, known as the ‘James Bond’ Rolex. At the time Omega, unlike Pierce Brosnan before him, were only sponsors of the movie character James Bond, not Craig himself and therefore he could wear what he liked. I am sure though the bigwigs at Omega were fuming after spending millions over the years promoting Omega as the James Bond watch, only to have the new James Bond character publicly wearing a Rolex. Craig’s stunt was short lived and possibly just to drive up his fee, as soon after the above image was taken he became an Omega ambassador, his Rolex collection returned to the safe to only be worn and admired privately. Although he perhaps shouldn't be on this list as he sold his name and likeness to Omega, privately he apparently maintains a love of vintage Rolex and I am sure the money from Omega came in useful when adding to his collection.

 9. Nicolas Cage. Although I believe he has now sold his collection, at one time Cage owned some of the most famous vintage watch references including the Patek Philippe Ref.2499 shown here and a pink gold moonphase calendar with star dial on a bracelet signed Rolex and stamped Ref.6062.

9. Nicolas Cage. Although I believe he has now sold his collection, at one time Cage owned some of the most famous vintage watch references including the Patek Philippe Ref.2499 shown here and a pink gold moonphase calendar with star dial on a bracelet signed Rolex and stamped Ref.6062.

9. The fact Nicolas Cage collected watches isn’t surprising, I am sure I have read the actor collects everything from dinosaurs to knives to probably moon dust. Like some collectors though his passion was fleeting and he is on this list only because he is wearing such a great watch in the image shown above. Having now I believe sold all of his collection I can find little about it other than it seems to have concentrated on vintage rare examples by famous brands without a true understanding of what he was buying. In short, he probably bought a lot of over-restored or questionable watches. In the image above he is wearing a yellow gold Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph Ref.2499, one of the most famous and collectable watches available.  (it is the same watch detailed below that John Lennon received on his 40th birthday)

 10. Robert Redford. Ok, so he isn't a watch collector, nor does he really promote the industry, but he has worn a Rolex Red-Submariner Ref. 1680, as seen above on his wrist in the 1976 movie 'All The President's Men' for at least 38 years.

10. Robert Redford. Ok, so he isn't a watch collector, nor does he really promote the industry, but he has worn a Rolex Red-Submariner Ref. 1680, as seen above on his wrist in the 1976 movie 'All The President's Men' for at least 38 years.

10. Ok, so Robert Redford isn’t really a collector, just the same as his late pal Paul Newman wasn’t a watch collector. In the (excellent) 1976 movie ‘All the Presidents Men’ Redford is seen wearing a Rolex Submariner Date, Ref. 1680 with red print Submariner text. This was neither a paid product placement nor a movie prop; it was his own watch he chose to wear. Over the years pictures exist of RR wearing the same red Submariner while out and about, including one taken recently when a well known San Francisco based vintage Rolex dealer spotted Robert at SFO and asked what watch he was wearing, yep, the same red Submariner he wore in the 1976 movie. He is on this list because, just like his Rolex, the guy is a classic.

Worthy of a mention are British TV personalities Gordon Ramsey and his vintage Rolex Submariner as well as Simon Cowell and his Jaeger LeCoultre tourbillon. Also former US President Bill Clinton who has been photographed wearing a modified Rolex Pro-Hunter as well as a Jaeger LeCoultre Navy SEALS alarm, neither are watches I would ever associate with a US President, former or current, and show his personal love of military-themed rugged watches. There is another rock star with a real passion for American pocket watches, however as I can't recall his name, he didn't make the list.

Not on this list because I can’t confirm via images is Will Farrell, yes, comedian Will Farrell. I heard he was an avid vintage Rolex fan after someone told me the story of the actor commenting on his rare Rolex at a Starbucks, however he might have been pulling my tail as I can’t find a picture of the comedian wearing a vintage Rolex anywhere. Sure, he is always wearing a different watch so the story might well be true. If anyone can prove it please email me, am curious to know.

I have purposefully left out footballers.

 

sunday reading: Patek Philippe steel watches

PP steel book.jpg

The lavishly cork-coated book dedicated only to steel Patek Philippe watches by John Goldberger is why we buy watch-dedicated books. Beautifully put together with clear and informative images and details covering some of the best pocket and wristwatches made by Patek Philippe. In his usual format of a full-page image on the right with detail images on the left, famed Italian watch collector Auro Montanari (John Goldberger is a pseudonyms) yet again proves he is the master of producing the highest quality books with the finest watches.

The above Patek Philippe stainless steel split second chronograph Ref.1436 is beautifully displayed over 4 pages in the book. I chose to show this watch as I happen to know a little about it.

Originally purchased by an American collector in 1949, this watch was only the 4th known Ref. 1436 in a steel case to appear publicly. It was discovered after finding a brief description (Patek Philippe Ref. 130 split-second wristwatch in steel)  on a jewelers valuation of some 20 watches after the collector had passed away. The watch missed being auctioned with the other items as it was the lowest value on the list at a mere US$900, (even a 1980’s steel and gold Cartier Santo’s was valued higher at US$1000) as the lowest value, the watch was retained as a keepsake by a family member. After contacting the trustee, who eventually provided the details of the person who had inherited the watch, I informed them the valuation was incorrect and received a reply they weren’t interested in selling for any price, when I notified the owners I believed, if genuine, the watch would be worth in the region of a million dollars, they stopped replying. Three years later after sending numerous unanswered letters, I received a phone call. Twenty Fours later I had driven halfway across America and was looking at the most pristine and untouched Patek Philippe Ref. 1436 the market had seen. In 2009 it was purchased by a well-known collector of steel Patek Philippe watches from Antiquorum auctioneers for just over US$1 million

 The Patek Philippe Staybrite steel Ref.450 pictured here was complete with original (unsigned) steel buckle when it first emerged from a ladies underwear drawer

The Patek Philippe Staybrite steel Ref.450 pictured here was complete with original (unsigned) steel buckle when it first emerged from a ladies underwear drawer

Above is another stunning Patek Philippe presented in the book that I happen to have seen in person. The watch a perfectly preserved reference 450 in a staybrite steel case from 1937. It was discovered in Los Angeles by a jeweler on a routine valuation, believing the watch must be fake as it was so light they refused to take it for inspection, eventually agreeing it to have it examined further, their value for the insurance form was a mere US$500. Upon inspection I called the owner to ask about the watches history, apparently it was gifted to their father by his father upon graduation. As an engineer her father owned few possessions of value and never found occasion to wear it, remaining in a ladies underwear drawer for the majority of its life. When I explained it really was quite valuable they couldn’t understand as her fathers family had never been known to be wealthy, I can only assume the watch was chosen for its quality of movement, something that would appeal to an engineering family, and the staybrite steel case all they could afford in 1937. The condition of the dial and movement is so good on this watch few believed it could be genuine, including my colleague from London. At least two people knew it was all original as the bidding reached a respectable (in 2007) $30,000.

This book, although i am sure out of print is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in steel PP watches, actually I would suggest anyone with a love of well-produced coffee books buy this book, it is really like no other.

 

Watches: Why I am disappointed in the apple watch

By now we have all had time to take in Tuesday’s release of the long-awaited Apple watch, I have read the (mostly) rave reviews and why this product will affect the comparably priced Swiss ‘manufacturers’. Personally though I feel the Swiss, particularly the luxury brands that had been a little nervous prior, were celebrating long into the night knowing they were safe from an immediate smart-watch threat

images-4.jpeg

When Steve Jobs first released the iPod in 2001, it wasn’t the only digital music player available, nor was it the best sounding or with the largest capacity, but it was, by far, the best looking and most innovative in its simplicity. Only available in white with a steel reverse it was like nothing we had seen prior, it was beautiful, it was cool, it was an object that even if you didn’t need one you still wanted one.  When Steve Jobs released the first iPhone in 2007 he took everyone by surprise when he put up a picture of all the existing smartphones and asked, “What is wrong with these phones?” the answer, we all now know, was the use of a physical keyboard that really wasn’t necessary. How many smartphone still have fixed keyboards? The first iPhone was only available in black and looked like no phone before it, thanks to Apple our perception of what a phone could look like had changed and it quickly became another super-cool ‘must-have’ item because of it.

 Apple basically reinvented the phone

Apple basically reinvented the phone

It was this type of out-of-the-box thinking I was hoping/expecting to see on Tuesday. With (probably) an unlimited financial budget for a new project that took 3 years to develop and had two of the best designers of our era working together on (Johnny Ives and Marc Newson), I surmised it had to be groundbreaking. A watch like no other watch we had seen before, an object we didn’t necessarily need but would want anyway because it would look so beautiful and be so functional, we once again just had to have it. Instead we were presented with a visually fatter, more rounded and Ikepod-like version of the Samsung smart watch. Sure, it might have more gizmo’s and be better made than the Samsung, but Apple became the giant it is today by thinking differently when it came to new products

  Apple now have the difficult task of making an unattractive watch fashionable, still, if anyone can, Apple probably can,

Apple now have the difficult task of making an unattractive watch fashionable, still, if anyone can, Apple probably can,

Perhaps telling to Tim Cook’s personality, rather than be presented with a singular ‘this is it’ device as in 2001 and 2007, we (the consumer) are presented with a plethora of options in final design to make it ‘ours’ rather than all of Apple’s previously released major products that were distinctly ‘theirs’.  Steve Jobs was apparently a nightmare to work with because he was so passionate and single-minded in his unrelenting drive in overseeing every detail. Somehow I can’t imagine him letting the consumer have so many design options that will make it less identifiable and ultimately dilute the brands image.

Prior to Tuesday I had already decided the new AppWatch would be a must-have purchase, I would wear it on my right wrist to compliment the vintage Rolex on my left and use it as a wrist-computer or alternate time-zone. It would be such a cool design I could get away with wearing two, such different, watches and use it for maps etc. while the whopping IPhone+ stayed snugly in my pocket.  Then Tuesday came. With the position of the crown it isn’t practical for your right wrist, which in turns forces people to choose between their beloved Patek/Rolex/AP, or an AppWatch, rather than as well as.

 Ben Clymer from website Hodinkee demonstrating the 42mm Apple watch next to the classic Patek Philippe Ref.3940

Ben Clymer from website Hodinkee demonstrating the 42mm Apple watch next to the classic Patek Philippe Ref.3940

I confess unlike others I haven’t seen the Apple watch in the metal so could possibly be swayed once released, but I doubt it. In the meantime, no matter how many great reviews I read I will continue to be disappointed, not necessarily because of the end product but because of what it had the potential to be.

SUNDAY READING: ROLEX CHRONOGRAPH THE LEGEND

Weighing 9 pounds, with 450 pages and 1200 images, the Rolex Chronograph book written by Paolo Gobbi and published in 2004 by Guido Mondani Editore makes for a seriously large paperweight. Then again you could use it as a door-stop, shield, or for kindle in the winter months, alas, the one thing you can’t use it for is as a reference guide.

Some of the watches presented are beautiful examples, but because these are intertwined with more known forgeries than any other book I have seen, you never know fact from fiction. The book is in Italian so I am not sure if the author is aware of this but it was the last book I purchased from famed publisher Mondani Editore. 

 The problem with printing known fake dials in books is these are then used by unsavory dealers to demonstrate the dial is genuine, claiming if it wasn't genuine it wouldn't be in the book! 

The problem with printing known fake dials in books is these are then used by unsavory dealers to demonstrate the dial is genuine, claiming if it wasn't genuine it wouldn't be in the book! 

The above red dial Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman', despite numerous efforts by some to prove is genuine, simply isn’t. The best and most likely answer to their production was told to me by an old timer in the industry who is not a Rolex collector; his version was an American working in Geneva during the 80s/90s befriended an employee of Singer dials (the company that originally made the Daytona dials) and got him to make modern reproductions of the 60's/70’s dials in his spare time using the original machines. The more he made that were passed off as genuine, the cockier they became until the ‘Ferrari Red Paul Newman’ as seen above was born. The first version of this dial to appear at auction, in 2005 from memory, was believed by some to be genuine and made a new world record for a Daytona (at the time) achieving approximately US$500,000. Only the buyer, a famous Rolex collector, insisted the dial be verified genuine by Rolex. The dial was classified a forgery and partially destroyed by Rolex (they scratched off their name and text) before being returned. 

  A lot of people have lost a lost of money buying fake Paul Newman dials, although some took legal action and did get their money back. The above fake dial is famously known as the "John Mayer" dial.

A lot of people have lost a lost of money buying fake Paul Newman dials, although some took legal action and did get their money back. The above fake dial is famously known as the "John Mayer" dial.

Above is another known fake Daytona Paul Newman dial. The original and highly valuable late 1960's version was printed 'Rolex Cosmograph Oyster' on the dial of Ref. 6240, this was changed to 'Rolex Oyster Cosmograph' in later years on the (regular dialed) Ref. 6263/6265. When the reproduction Paul Newman dials were made they mistakenly used the more recent format making them easy to spot.

The problem is, with so many rare and unusual dials glamorously illustrated, you never know which are genuine.

Above is what appears to be a good example of a gold Ref.6238 chronograph with underline dial, then again......

In short, with a 400 Euro retail price, or even if it was 40 Euro, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone unless you want to simply use it as a paperweight

Watches: Why I love this business

A short while ago I did a post on ten of the best Rolex bubblebacks you will ever see, these were all originally uploaded by rolexdoc on the watch forum PuristSpro. In doing more research I came across other pictures rolexdoc had uploaded and, well, it seems he not only has amazing Rolex watches…..

Yes, that’s four Patek Philippe automatic perpetual calendars, Ref. 3448J, 3450J second series, 3448G and a 3450J 1st series all together in one picture, possibly from one collector. In addition to the rarity, if you look at the dials and cases, in particular the lugs, all look in amazing condition. The two references are almost identical with the 3450 featuring the addition of a leap-year indicator. The the first series 3450 used arabic numerals 1-3 and a red-dot for the leap year and the second series roman numerals I,II,III, IV. The series was replaced by the Ref. 3940 in 1985 with a total of only 244 examples of 3448/3450 released.

 

You are looking at are two very rare Patek Philippe perpetual calendars, the models are the Ref.2497 and Ref.2438/1  from a combined 179 examples first released in 1951. The references are almost identical, the only difference being a 2438/1 uses a water-resistant screw-down case back. Released in 2 series, the first with alternate Arabic numerals and dot markers as seen on the watch to the left and the second series with applied gold batons as per the one on the right. Looking at the picture I would assume the left one is a first series Ref.2497 in pink gold and on the right a second series Ref.2438 in yellow gold. You can tell the dials are original and the case condition just exceptional, just look at how crisp the case lugs are! Wow. Believe it or not this picture was uploaded by the same person as the above perpetual calendars and the previously posted Rolex bubblebacks. Just to confirm, these pictures are not scanned from a book, nor are they from any auction catalog. Looking at the similar settings, these were all taken by the same person in the same environment; Translation, they all belong to one, very serious, collector. 

The above watch looks like a yellow gold Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 with some oxidization to the case (this is a good thing as it means it has sat unused for a long period of time); only it isn’t a Ref. 1463. The bezel is wider and flatter than a Ref. 1463, the lugs slightly heavier and has a different crown/pushers. It’s actually a Ref. 3651 from a very small series of possibly only 3 watches made by Patek Philippe in the late 1980’s (this one is from 1988) using movements from the 1950s. The model falls into a small series of special-order watches recased with sequential reference numbers by Patek Philippe in the 1980’s, all with complicated movements. Others (known) released include the Ref. 3652, a Calatrava style minute repeater from 1985 and a Ref. 3655, in a rectangular case with 8 day movement presumed from 1986. Of course, that means we are yet to discover a Ref.3650, 3653, 3654 and possibly others, which is just one of the reasons I love this business so much. Below is a picture of yours truly wearing the same watch. 

PP chrono.jpg

A final parting picture from rolexdoc below, a yellow gold Rolex automatic triple calendar with moon phases, Ref.6062, on an original Rolex Jubilee bracelet. Just beautiful.


Watches: in search of the coolest travel watch

Continuing on my search for the ultimate travel/adventure watch..........

CONTENDER: BREITLING EMERGENCY 

The Breitling Emergency is one of the most ideally designed watches for travel/adventure, originally intended for use by pilots it has an integrated beacon that transmits on the emergency 121.5Mhz frequency once deployed. A potential 'just in case' life-saver. Today that particular frequency is used less and only really practical if activated on land (the frequency is not regularly monitored at sea) but still instills a certain sense of security for the wearer. Housed within a rugged satin-finish 43mm diameter case, the watch is definitely more suited to the jungle than the city; still, if you want to show a passion for the outdoors on your wrist while wearing a suit, this is the watch for you. In addition to an emergency beacon the model boasts an impressive list of useful features for travel including a digital/analog display, dual time zone, military time, chronograph, alarm, <24hr count-down timer and perpetual calendar. Although intended for navigation, the bi-directional rotating bezel can also be used as a time-marker by using North as zero.

This watch is really hard to beat when it comes to the outdoors, sure it’s quartz so the battery could die and this is a concern, but honestly not a big one as the functions this enables are all so useful. The alarm is great for waking you up to catch those early-morning flights and the calendar with day/date display personally I find useful; it’s surprisingly easy to forget what day it is in the jungle. The black rubber strap is comfortable, if a little bulky, but the watch can be worn on a bracelet or NATO strap as an option. 

Overall the Emergency feels well-made, the luminous markers and hands glows well in the dark (although a backlight for the LCD display would have been ideal) and the bezel rotates really smoothly. The size is almost ideal at 43mm and despite the integrated beacon the case not too thick that it catches on everything when worn. (such as the Richard Mille Diver)  

Although the model is now discontinued they are available to find for less than US$6,000 making it a sensible value for traveling. If looking for one make sure it is complete with the instructions and most important beacon test unit, nothing could be worse than discovering your emergency transmitter doesn’t work just when you need to use it! 

PROS

Although perhaps not ideal in a true survival situation, having the emergency beacon does give some sort of psychological ‘comfort’ when traveling. The case is well made and the bezel rotates smoothly without feeling like its going to fall off, the luminescent is clear at night and the functions provided by the quartz movement very useful for travel. It's also very understated and doesn't really look valuable so your unlikely to be targeted for theft.

CONS

My main gripe, other than the fact it's quartz, is the digital functions are changed via rotating the crown and this is somewhat difficult to do with the watch on your wrist. Taking the watch off your wrist though to scroll through the functions is also slightly frustrating. I found myself leaving the digital display on the calendar for daily wear and removing the watch when I needed set the alarm etc. I would also have liked a back-light for the digital display so it was easily visible at night and the rubber strap I found just a little too chunky. 

This is probably the best pure-travel watch that I expect to find as it really has everything, although let's face it if I was looking for just a travel watch I would wear a Suunto. As the title of the post suggests, I am looking for a seriously cool travel watch and I am not sure the Emergency really has the ‘cool’ factor I am looking for. Sure it’s got a certain style and adventure mystic I appreciate, but cool?

Time to keep looking……..

SUNDAY READING: VINTAGE PANERAI - THE REFERENCES

'The References' represents the *second book on vintage Panerai from the team of Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann, released last year, according to their website the reference book is already sold out. Don’t worry though, their follow-up book ‘History1’ is out in print with ‘History2’ under construction. I have previously had correspondence with one of the authors, Volker Wiegmann, regarding a prototype model I was researching and can attest to his knowledge and professionalism, his opinion also seems to be well-respected among the Paneristi and considering they can be a tough-bunch to please, this says a lot. 

vp 3646.jpg

The authors knowledge and research is clearly evident, I have had need to use this book on a number of occasion’s when studying vintage Panerai and pleased to say they haven’t yet let me down, making it my personal 'go to' guide when it comes to vintage Panerai. The book is probably the most in-depth I have found when you are looking to authenticate a vintage model or identify a pieced-together watch. It cover’s the usual 3646, 6154, 6152 etc references and gives details such as variations in case designs; for example minor differences in size between a 6152 and 6152/1, that most would overlook.

Given the escalating value of good vintage Panerai watches in recent years I would highly recommend References to those looking to buy, or simply research. Printed in tri-language German, Italian and English it is quite in-depth and can read more like a text book, rather than just full of pretty pictures, but that’s what makes it a worthwhile purchase.

* Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann’s first book on Panerai was ‘Vintage Panerai - Watches with History’

WATCHES: TEN OF THE BEST ROLEX BUBBLEBACK'S YOU WILL EVER SEE

Over on the watch forum PuristSPro, someone recently posted this picture of two incredible Rolex bubblebacks with the title 'a couple of cousins'.

Posted by rolexdoc on the watch forum purostpro

The watches, an almost identical pair of all original Rolex bubblebacks from the late 1930s/1940's era are both equally rare in a two-tone steel/pink gold ridged-hooded case. Probably both made for the American market, they also feature exceptional condition original dials and hands, one with a so called California dial with upper Roman and lower Arabic numerals and Mercedes hands, the other with a three-tone dial with Arabic numerals and small baton indexes with luminescent index hands. To top it off, they both have their respective original steel/pink gold ladder-link bracelets.

For anyone curious if their sub-seconds bubbleback dial is original or not, these are unquestionably original and make for an excellent reference.

Here is a link to the original post by rolexdoc.

UPDATE.

Looking through rolexdoc's previous posts, back in August he showed off with this picture of another three amazing Rolex bubblebacks, prior to then he (or she) had posted the pictures below. All of the watches are in amazing condition and represent the best you could find, the fact that all ten were all posted by one person (!) makes it even more incredible. Just goes to show you how many great vintage watches previously appeared on the market that have since disappeared. Somewhere, there should, in theory, be collectors around the world with similarly impressive watches tucked away. If only they all followed rolexdoc's examples and let the new collectors out there see what they've been missing.

Another 3 amazing Rolex bubblebacks, all in original condition. 

I assume he is a bubbleback collector, or he just happened to post pictures of 10 of the most amazing examples anywhere. I suspect the former.

Steel and gold ridge-hooded bubble back with black California dial and Mercedes hands on 'grain of rice' bracelet. 

The bubbleback, along with the Rolex Prince, was one of the first collectable vintage wristwatches back in the late 1980s. Affectionately nicknamed for its bulbous reverse that housed the automatic rotor, the model was very significant in the growth of the Rolex watch company, released in 1931 it was the worlds first, effective, automatic wristwatch.

All gold hooded bubbleback with gloss black California dial and Mercedes hands.

Pink gold bubbleback with engine-turned bezel, pink California dial and Merceds hands. Just look at that perfect original dial!

Slightly earlier model with another amazing two-tone dial, note the mired effect to the outer track.

Seemingly unpolished case with perfect dial.

SUNDAY READING: HEUER CHRONOGRAPH'S

Heuer Chronographs, written by Arno Michael Haslinger and published by Callwey is THE go to book on Heuer vintage chronograph watches. Featuring well written and carefully researched details on the watches, including history of the models when relevant, the book has excellent photography combined with classic, usually racing, images. As well as being an all-round great guy with a gifted sense of style and humor, Arno Haslinger is also internationally regarded as a leading authority on vintage Heuer watches, apparently he knows a thing or two about vintage Porsche 911's as well.

 Perhaps the most famous of them all, the Monaco Ref. 1133B is well documented.

Perhaps the most famous of them all, the Monaco Ref. 1133B is well documented.

In 2010 Bonhams auctioneers in London held a special sale of 'The Hasligner Collection' comprised of 100 Heuer watches from Arno Haslinger, many that had been featured in the book. The selection offered attracted world-wide media attention and drew a new base of collectors to the brand. The auction achieved 100% sold, setting numerous world-record prices for Heuer watches. A true success story.


 The book is written in both English and German.

The book is written in both English and German.

With Heuer prices, just, remaining affordable to vintage enthusiast looking for a cool watch, or serious collectors, the Heuer Chronograph book remains something of a bible to anyone interested in buying, or just learning. If you can find a copy it is well worth the modest investment.

 Prices of the Autavia model pictured above has increased dramatically over the last five years.

Prices of the Autavia model pictured above has increased dramatically over the last five years.

Commencing with an introduction by the legendary Jack Heuer, the book features the following models/references.

AUTAVIA: Ref. 2446M, Ref. 2446H, Ref. 244GMT, Ref. 7763MH, Ref. 73663MH, Ref. 741603GMT, Ref. 1163T, Ref. 1163MH, Ref. 1163V,  Ref. 11630MH, Ref. 11630GMT

CALCULATOR: Ref. 110633, Ref. 150633

CAMARO: Ref. 7220NT, Ref. 7228S, Ref. 73345T, 

CARRERA: Ref. 2447S, Ref. 2447D, Ref. 2447N, Ref. 2447ST, Ref. 2447NT, Ref. 2448S, Ref.3647T, Ref. 3647D, Ref. 3647N, Ref. 7753D, Ref. 3147S INDIANAPOLIS, Ref. 3147N, Ref. 3147N INDIANAPOLIS, Ref. 2547N, Ref. 73653N, Ref. 1153N, Ref. 1153S, Ref. 1158CH, Ref. 1553S, Ref. 1553N, Ref. 110255, Ref. 110573B, Ref. 110573F

CORTINA: Ref. 110233R, Ref. 110233NC

DAYTONA: Ref. 110203B, Ref. 110203F

MONACO: Ref. 73633B, Ref. 73633G, Ref. 740303N, Ref. 1133B

MONTREAL: Ref. 110503W, Ref. 110503B, Ref. 110503BC, Ref. 110503N, Ref. 110501N

MONZA: Ref. 150511, Ref. 150501

SILVERSTONE: Ref. 110313B,  Ref. 110313R,  Ref. 110313F

SKIPPER: Ref. 7764MH, Ref. 15640

SOLUNAR: Ref. 279603

VERONA: Ref. 110213G, Ref. 110213N, Ref. 110215N

JACKY ICKX: Ref. 429801R

WATCHES: Peter Speake-Marin hits the big screen

When the actor Pierce Brosnan went looking for inspiration regarding his new role as a watchmaker in the upcoming movie 'Survivor', he turned to the real-life English watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin.

Picture posted on Pierce Brosnan's Instagram account with real-life watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin.

It's always good to see the Independent watchmakers being recognized for their exceptional work and contribution to the industry, but this is the first time I have heard of one being depicted on the big screen, I just hope it doesn't go to Peter's head.

Peter Speake-Marin is a highly talented English watchmaker now working in Switzerland. His classic 'Piccadilly' line of watches, launched in the early 2000's and named after his time spend restoring watches in the the Piccadilly Arcade in London, gained him his reputation for simple, timeless, designs. In recent years Peter has  progressed rapidly with his own movement calibre and highly popular 'Spirit' line of military-inspired watches.

The Speake-Marin Resilience model in a 42mm diameter red gold case with enamel dial and Eros calibre movement. Image ©speake-marin

Pierce Brosnan recently added this image to his Instagram account wearing a Speake-Marin Resilence wristwatch.

The actor, made famous by his portrayal as James Bond in the 007 movies from 1995-2005, apparently sought insight into how a watchmaker should be portrayed while working and used Peter Speake-Marin as his muse. Looking at the picture below taken on the set of Survivor with Mr Brosnan at work, he could quite easily be mistake for Peter.

 Pierce Brosnan photographed while filming 'Survivor', the movie is due to be released in 2015

Pierce Brosnan photographed while filming 'Survivor', the movie is due to be released in 2015

I recall back in 1990 when we both worked at Somlo Antiques and Peter Speake was my manager, the young man had a dream. That dream was to take the knowledge he had gained from years spent restoring vintage watches and apply it to modern watches. He knew the parts of the watch most likely to wear over time and also which movement and case designs withstood the years better. I am pleased to say Peter has kept to his principles and despite the passing of time, still believes in applying the same ideals he held then.

©peter speake-marin

DLC coated model from the highly successful Spirit collection. ©speake-marin

Let's hope Hollywood pays more homage to the often overlooked independent watchmakers in future and brings them to their rightful place under the spotlight. A movie about watchmakers? Just an idea.

WATCHES: The Patek Philippe Ref.2419

Back in March 2010 Antiquorum auctioned one of the greatest vintage Patek Philippe wristwatches to appear on the market in recent years. It might not have the famous Graves coat of arms but the watch, originally purchased by a well-known New York businessman and inventor from Cartier in 1950, was unique; eventually selling to a private collector for US$710,000.

©Antiquorum

It featured a previously unknown movement used by Patek Philippe in their minute repeating wristwatches, an oversized crown, subsidiary seconds and repeater slide. The gold indexes had been painted black when the owner reached old age to assist in visibility. Probably considered ugly and unrefined due to its enlarged aspects back in the 1950s, today it is just beautiful. Full details from the auction catalog can be found below.

Offered in exceptional overall condition, below are images taken of the movement and under-dial view while partially disassembled that didn't make it into the catalog.

The dial was made of gold with the minute track, signature and all details engraved and then hard enameled.

Under-dial view showing the repeating mechanism, it is rare for a PP movement to also be numbered under the dial. 

 The repeat slide was so large it was made of two pieces of gold screwed together, note the minute markers on the movement

The repeat slide was so large it was made of two pieces of gold screwed together, note the minute markers on the movement

Despite being made in 1950 the condition was excellent and unrestored.



WATCHES: Coolest travel watch?

I sometimes used to wonder, if I was ever going to hang up my suit and move to a peaceful island somewhere, which one watch would I take with me? With so many to choose from the answer isn't as obvious as you might think.

In my search for the ideal beach/travel watch, I will be posting the contenders with pros/cons on each then hopefully, one day, a winner. 


CONTENDER: RICHARD MILLE RM028 'DIVER'

Despite the whopping (US$100,000) price tag, very few people recognize a Richard Mille, something I liked about the watch.

Perhaps not the first travel watch that comes to mind due to the price that goes with it, the RM028 is one of the coolest out there and a strong contender for the ultimate travel model. The standard version as pictured is created in a 47mm diameter titanium case with automatic movement and date. The luminous hands, due to their size, are clearly visible at night and the revolving bezel is an over-engineered piece of geek heaven. Constructed out of no less than three layers and secured together using 22 screws, the bezel remains locked in place unless both the raised 60 and 30 minute buttons are simultaneously pressed, allowing it to rotate anti-clockwise. This sounds more complex that it is and with some practice the bezel can be set quickly and efficiently. The winding crown is, well, huge and I found dug into the back of my hand, hence the yellow string in the picture to act as a barrier (it really does make a difference). The sand does get into the bezel which is a worry, although it always seemed to wash out at the end of the day, still, this might have a long-term effect as some sand could remain and with such a complex bezel, if it fails, it really fails. The strap is super-soft vulcanized rubber (looks great in the optional red) secured to the case by large titanium bolts, combined with a trustworthy titanium pin-buckle you don't have to worry about losing your $100,000 purchase to the depths of the ocean.

This wouldn't be a good time to be worrying about the reliability of your strap.

One of the big drawbacks I found on the RM028 is the depth, not the rating but physical thickness. The watch is 14.6mm thick and this makes it big enough, believe it or not, to create noticeable drag when swimming, it also means it knocks into doors and things (usually after a few beers) and gets caught on clothes or backpacks when removing them. Nothing serious but frustrating.

 At 47mm in diameter and 14.6mm thick, the watch is large, although thanks to the titanium case, which is exceptionally well crafted, the model only weighs 127g with strap.

At 47mm in diameter and 14.6mm thick, the watch is large, although thanks to the titanium case, which is exceptionally well crafted, the model only weighs 127g with strap.

After wearing the watch for a while, as much as I loved the construction and finishing quality of the case, I simply grew tired of the size. For a watch of this value I would also liked to have seen a more secure crown, it's so large that I felt it could snap the stem very easily. The minute hand also has a tendency to jump (by several minutes) when pushing the crown back into its winding position after setting, I have seen this on more than one time-only RM model and assume it's a design flaw or common wear-issue with the movement. 

Call me crazy but I swear my morning swim always took a little longer when wearing the RM028 due to the additional drag the case creates.

Pros. Amazingly well constructed lightweight case with great attention to detail, including the most over-engineered roating-bezel imaginable. The clear, legible dial is easy to read at a glance and you never worry about losing it due to the secure strap. Despite its obvious size, I doubt you would be targeted by thieves as few would believe its value, not sure if it's a plus but those people who do recognize it will call you 'Sir', no matter how tattered your clothes. Ultimately the best thing is the design; it is one cool looking watch.

Cons. If used regularly in the sea or on a beach, I would be concerned for the long-term effects of wear on the bezel and future servicing options. The crown is also so large and with little support for the stem you could easily create enough leverage to snap it during hand-setting (not that I have heard of this happening). The biggest problem though is the size, if the movie Expendables 3 was more true to life (!) Stallone, wearing a slightly larger RM032 in the movie, would be constantly catching the watch on doors, or anything you walk past, through, or put on or removed. In short, even the smaller RM028 was just too thick to be practical for adventure travel. One more small point, at 20 meters under the water the colour red becomes invisible, making the last 15 minute red warning on the bezel turn black when diving.

The red bezel numerals and dial accents look great on dry land but the colour is the first to be lost underwater, turning the same accents a dark grey/black colour at  depth.



WATCHES: Paul Newman and the Daytona Part 1

One of the most famous vintage Rolex watches available is the so-called Daytona Paul Newman, named after the famous Hollywood actor who wore a steel Daytona Ref.6239 with white 'exotic' dial during an early 1970's magazine photoshoot and in his personal life. 

The legendary actor Paul Newman pictured wearing a Daytona 'Paul Newman' during a photoshoot for an Italian magazine, more importantly, Paul Newman is wearing HIS 'Paul Newman'. He just didn't know it, alas he never did.

Little though is talked about the other Rolex watches Paul Newman owned and wore on a regular basis, take for instance this seemingly 'normal' stainless steel automatic Daytona with white dial, just a regular production model Ref.16520 he happened to wear regularly during the latter years of his racing career, right? Wrong.

Paul Newman the race car driver/owner wearing his steel Rolex Daytona Ref. 16520 

Paul Newman discovered a love of racing cars while filming the 1969 movie 'Winning' (he didn't wear a Rolex in that movie) and after commenting it was the first sport he ever had any talent in, proceeded to enter his first professional event in 1972, the same year his wife presented him with a Ref.6263 Daytona (more on that one later).  Paul Newman's love of racing and desire to run a professional team let him to contact Bill Freeman in 1976 and the two later established 'Newman Freeman Racing', wining the Can-Am team championship trophy in 1979. Paul Newman later teamed up with Carl Haas to launch the highly successful Newman/Hass Racing team, achieving 8 drivers championships in 1983. 

In 1995 Paul Newman won his GT1 class at the 24hrs of Daytona race and, as is still common today for the winners of the Rolex sponsored 'Rolex 24' at Daytona, was presented with a (white dialed) steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 16520 engraved with his name.

The famous and well-used stainless steel Rolex Daytona Ref. 16520 photographed in 2009.

After being presented with the specially engraved Rolex Daytona in 1995, Paul Newman, in typical generous fashion, donated it to Antiquorum's charity auction 'Famous Faces' held in New York in 1999. During the auction the watch sold for US39,000 (with the entire proceeds going to charity), well above its estimate but a fraction of the value it would be worth today.   I was fortunate enough to view the late Paul Newman's collection of watches in 2009, the above photograph was taken by me of his well-used white-dialed Ref. 16520 Daytona with presentation inscription. Presumably Mr Paul Newman didn't want to let it go so easily and either bought it himself at the 1999 sale, or someone bought it for him.



Watches: How Elle MacPherson changed the watch industry

Ok, so this might be debatable, but for me currently the most fashionable and desirable luxury watch for stylish women is the automatic Rolex Daytona, preferably, according to my wife, in pink gold. This popularity didn't happen overnight, but the repercussions of the demand did create a worldwide trend for women to wear the larger sized, typically mens watches, regardless of manufacturer or value. You could be forgiven for congratulating Rolex on such a great advertising campaign that managed to generate a whole new demographic of buyer for mens watches, however, not for the first time, Rolex seemingly had little involvement in their own success.

 Elle MacPherson wearing a yellow gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona with white dial Ref. 16528, and not much else.

Elle MacPherson wearing a yellow gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona with white dial Ref. 16528, and not much else.

In a time when men wore 35mm diameter watches and women their tiny 26mm feminine versions, a 6ft Australian super-model named Elle MacPheason had made a name for herself after appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition no less than 5 times. Aptly nicknamed 'The Body', Elle was often featured in magazines on some beautiful beach wearing a bikini, necklace, and colorful bracelets worn with yellow gold automatic Rolex Daytona (on her right wrist). I recall at the time comments such as, "why is she wearing a mens watch? and "who wears a gold Daytona and bikini?" Still though, few could deny she wore the combination well and looked simply stunning. This was the beginning of the 'boyfriend watch' 

 In my search this is what appears to be the earliest photograph taken of Elle MacPherson wearing the gold Rolex Daytona/bikini combination, although I am sure there are others.

In my search this is what appears to be the earliest photograph taken of Elle MacPherson wearing the gold Rolex Daytona/bikini combination, although I am sure there are others.

Regardless of opinion's on Elle's wrist-fashion statement, and it was a statement, the watch world, meaning at that time the Italians, took notice. Soon similarly statuesque Italian women could be seen wearing the (then) near impossible to find steel automatic Daytona, while their husbands wore the smaller vintage Paul Newman version, a true power-couple. Despite the markets infatuation with steel, Elle's love of the gold Daytona continued as she was rarely photographed wearing any other watch.

From memory it was the less impressive Tara Reid who followed 'The Body's' fashion of bikini and yellow gold Rolex Daytona, not that she was alone as other celebrities including Brooklyn Decker, Paris Hilton, Elizabeth Hurley, Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, Jessica Simpson and Victoria Beckham to name but a few, can all be seen wearing a version of Rolex Daytona in various states of (un)dress. Today the automatic Daytona, whether in steel, rose, yellow or white gold, is a staple accessory in the wardrobe of style-consious successful women around the world, and looks great on all of them.

 Photographed by Giles Bensimon

Photographed by Giles Bensimon

Like the legendary Paul Newman before her, I suspect even the business-minded Elle MacPherson didn't anticipate the influence her love of the Rolex Daytona would have on the industry, those that follow it, and every women who today wears a watch designed for men.

Personally, I think women look much sexier wearing mens-size watches, so thanks Elle, I owe you.