This week, the name of the game is rarity. A wide range of pieces that you just don’t see everyday popped up on the market this week, including a Universal Geneve Film Compax, an Abercrombie & Fitch Heuer in stunning shape, and an early, gilt dial Submariner with a twist of sorts. To keep things interesting, there’s also a desk clock of note. We’ve got a little something for everyone today, at price points both accessible and … otherwise.
Universal Genève Film Compax
After the Universal Geneve market first took off, everyone and their brother went digging through old watches in search of anything signed UG, which resulted in an influx of watches coming up for sale. A large majority of collectors chose to focus their attention primarily on the sport-cased Nina Rindt chronographs and “Clapton” dial Tri-Compaxes, as prices continued to climb at an unprecedented rate. But some were inspired to set their sights a little higher, and dug deeper into the back catalogs of the brand.
Doing so would have resulted in the discovery of the Film Compax – a purpose-built chronograph of note, designed to track the amount of 35mm and 16mm film being run through a camera during an elapsed period. Given how niche a task these additional chronograph scales aided with, the watch was produced in extremely small numbers, with only a handful of examples known to the market.
You can now add one to that handful, as while scrolling through eBay I encountered an unpolished example of the oversized cinematic chronograph. With one of the scales now faded away, the dial does indeed show its age, though given just how rare a watch we’re talking about, don’t be surprised to see some fierce bidding go down on this example. The last time one came up for sale it was at Phillips, and sold for nearly $70,000. If you’re looking for something almost no one else has, this one fits the bill.
This ultra-rare UG is available on eBay from a Miami-based seller, and the bidding is up to $5,238 as we publish this (with a little more than three days left to go). Click here for the full listing.
Despite the watch industry’s focus on men, wristwatches effectively began as a women’s accessory and were originally seen by many as feminine. With that said, there were some in the early days that disregarded this notion, in search of functionality. The Braizilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont was one of those individuals, who began wearing a wrist-mounted timepiece from his friend Louis Cartier in 1904, allowing him to track the time while in the air, all without giving up control of his aircraft.
Fast forward roughly six decades, and examples of the Santos like this had become a mainstay of the Cartier collection. This manually wound example dates back to the 1970s and has held up quite well, with most of its case lines remaining decently sharp. Historians might technically classify this as a men’s watch, though given its size, I’d say it would make a terrific ladies’ piece.
What’s so special about this piece, and much of the Cartier lineup in general, is the resemblance it bears to the original Santos from the early 1910s. Its a design so pure and iconic that even after the passing of five decades, and now a century, the overall aesthetic remains largely unchanged. That’s the power of great design.
Just down the coast in Los Angeles, Wanna Buy A Watch is offering this example of the Santos for $4,500. Click here to see the full listing.
Rolex Ref. 5512 ‘Eagle Beak’ Submariner With Chapter Ring Dial
The strength of the Daytona market has firmly established the model as the ultimate vintage sports Rolex to have, though over the past few months, the Submariner market has flexed a few milestones of its own. Back in June, we saw the first Submariner to cross the million dollar mark at Christie’s, with the sale of a beyond honest Explorer dial Ref. 6538, but unlike the Daytona market, this benchmark sale wasn’t followed by a bevy of other examples hitting the market. This can be attributed to the fact that great Subs are arguably much rarer.
While browsing through the inventories of the usual gamut of reputable dealers, I came across a pretty special 5512. This is an early example of the reference, complete with a chapter ring gilt dial and an unconventionally shaped case. It’s what’s referred to by collectors as an “Eagle Beak” cased Submariner, as it’s pointed crown guards resemble the maxillary and mandibular rostrum of an eagle’s beak. I bet you didn’t expect a lesson in bird anatomy in this week’s article, but I’m here to serve.
Though there is a bit of hand drag towards the center of the dial, it’s an otherwise clean piece that’s in honest shape. For those in search of a not-so-oridinary Submariner, you might want to check this one out.
San Francisco’s H.Q. Milton is currently offering this Submariner for just under $68,550. Click here for the full listing.
Bulova Snorkel Diver
A great watch doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to you, but in a world of recording breaking auction prices, and hen’s teeth rarities, it’s certainly easy to get perspectives skewed. At the end of the day it’s all about finding something unique that speaks to you, all while performing its chief task reliably and accurately.
Back in the day, Bulova made some attractive divers and chronographs, that can still be acquired without entirely breaking the bank. This includes the Snorkel, a 666-foot rated diver housed in a decently sized 35 mm case, with an ample amount of luminous material on its dial for those deep plunges. I came across this example on the site of a dealer based out of Milwaukee, and it’s a rather uncommon one, in that the rotating bezel came painted from the factory, and the word “Snorkel” appears on the silver dial. This places this example quite early on in the production of this specific model, and in unpolished condition you can’t deny its charm.
Justin Vrakas of Watch Steez has this Bulova listed at $890. Click here to see the full listing.
Spanish Rolex Desk Clock
While the watches of yesteryear are ultimately the main attraction in this game, I’ve always been particularly interested in the marketing materials and dealer installations used to help promote and sell. When it comes to branding, few are capable of rivaling what Rolex has achieved in their 113 year history, as clearly evidenced by all the different advertisements of note, whimsical window displays, and dealer clocks they produced over the years. All of this contributed to the way the brand is now perceived, which is why such pieces of history are now so sought after.
What we’ve got here is a desk clock, that likely would have been displayed inside a Spanish speaking authorized dealer’s showroom back in the 1950s. Although the Rolex green brass case – with gilt lettering reading “LA HORA AL SEGUNDO,” or “the time to the second” – does show some patina, the dial and hands of the clock have been preserved effectively and remain in pristine condition. The Rolex branded wooden case is a nice addition, as well, and ought to impress any completist scholar of all things Rolex.
This clock is available on eBay for just under $20,000. Click here to see the full listing.