Bring a Loupe: A 1970 Rolex Turn-O-Graph Ref. 1625, A Heuer Chess Champion, And An IWC Cal. 83
It's Friday morning once again, which means it's time to dive into a selection of the some of the most exciting vintage watches currently available for purchase. These include a Movado chronograph which couldn't have been better configured, along with a time-only piece from IWC that displays a similar sense of understated taste. Those that appreciate an added factor of rarity will surely get a kick out of the included Compur from Universal Geneve, along with the Ref. 1625 Thunderbird that bears a particularly rare retailer signature. If you've got your wrist-mounted timepiece game already covered, we've got you covered, too, with a desktop Chess Champion from Heuer, that's bound to definitely be put to use by its next owner. Movado M90 Chronograph If I had to list preferred traits I look for in a great vintage chronograph, it'd probably go a little something like this. First off, a stainless steel case would be a must. Although there's definitely something to be said for a fine timepiece in a precious metal like yellow gold, that's just not my style, and I'll leave that to the really debonair types. Second on said list would be Breguet numerals, and can you blame me? There's just something so good about that typeface – it has the ability to elevate any good watch to greatness. Come to think of it, the list probably ends there, but I certainly wouldn't turn down a funky handset if I should be so lucky for that to enter the equation. Our first watch of the week checks all these boxes, and while a tad on the smaller side at just 33 mm across, I think it's more than worthy of a mention. We're kicking things off with a Movado, powered by the venerable Cal. M90 column wheel chronograph, which I'd highly recommend taking a good look at, if you've never done so in the past. Both this caliber and the M95 are among my favorite chronograph movements, largely because they're just so aesthetically pleasing. The presence of the aforementioned Breguet numerals and unique hand style found in the subdial at three o'clock, contributes to this pleasing aesthetic, all of which is furthered by a cased produced by François Borgel. For those not familiar, cases signed with the FB mark were also used by Patek Philippe, as a result of their quality and superlative design. All of these facets together make for quite the good looking watch, and its 1463-style chronograph pushers are icing on the cake. A really, really good cake. I'd urge you to look past the 33 mm case size of this particular Movado, as the sum of its parts really is that attractive. While it might take a bit of getting used to, I assure you, you can pull it off! The Miami-based dealer Menta Watches is offering this outstanding Movado with an asking price of $13,000.00 USD. Find more details and photos on their site. Universal Geneve Compur Next up, we've got a watch that I wouldn't necessarily purchase for myself, but given its rarity and historical significance, its inclusion was practically mandatory. Don't worry, I'll elaborate on that admittedly perplexing stance. The timepiece in question is a Compur, manufactured by none other than Universal Geneve, and as the photos show, it's certainly seen better days. What once was a striking silver dial chronograph with blued steel hands has now aged into a heavily spotted and pitted relic of years past. Despite this, I'd bet it's still of serious interest to some, regardless of its current state. Towards the dial's centre, just below the handstack, you'll notice a small knot graphic where you'd normally find text reading "COMPUR." This is what's known as a "Savoy knot," which is a symbol of Italian heraldry, linking this piece directly to the Italian royal family Casa Savoia, or House of Savoy. Italy's Savoyard counts, dukes, and kings were in part responsible for the country's unification in 1861, in addition to their brief stints ruling over Albania, Ethiopia, and Spain. The presence of this defining insignia suggests without question that this watch was originally delivered to the Italian market, and presented to someone related to the House of Savoy. In the past, I've seen savoy knots on the dials of similarly configured Compaxes from Universal Geneve, along with Marina Militare chronographs from Zenith. This isn't to say that timepieces bearing such insignias on their dials are common, as I could probably count every qualifying example I've encountered on one hand, even with a couple of amputated fingers. Even though the watch hasn't aged as gracefully as one would hope, I'd still deem it one seriously cool piece. A seller out of Syracuse is offering this rare and unusual Universal Geneve in an eBay auction that'll end later today. At the time of publishing, the high bid stands at $239.50. 1970 Rolex Turn-O-Graph Ref. 1625 Keeping the rarity train rolling is another piece that's separated from the pack thanks to an added bit of sought after dial printing that's smaller than your pinky fingernail. Don't let its size fool you, as in the vintage watch game, it's all about the details, regardless of how big they might be, and how puzzling they might be to comprehend. Unlike the previously featured Universal Geneve, the topic of discussion is now shifting towards one of the more interesting references from the Wilsdorf coronet empire, with an equally interesting retailer signature, elevating the watch to that next next level of cool. Unlike other watch manufacturers, Rolex wasn't nearly as enthusiastic about co-branding dials with the names of any authorized dealer who asked, making the number of produced retailer signed dial variants far fewer than those from other brands. Of all the variants, some of the most sought after are those signed "Joyeria Riviera," indicating the original sale of such examples took place at Havana's leading luxury retailer. Founded in 1943 by Don Julio Abislaiman on Gailano Boulevard, the store remained in their Havana location until the revolution came to an end in 1960. Following the predicament presented by the island country's new politics, Joyeria Riviera closed up shop and took their business to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Though all retailer signed Rolex references are rare in comparison to the countless examples produced without such special treatment, those signed Joyeria Riviera are far more scarce than those signed Tiffany & Co., for example. This makes any chance to own one a privilege, and the opportunity presented by this Ref. 1625 Thunderbird is no exception. Considering that the Thunderbird is already a bit of an unconventional reference with a cult following, the presence of the Joyeria Riviera signature only increases its desirability. For a chance at owning a Joyeria Riviera signed Rolex, head on over to Cotrie Spezial Auktionen of Hamburg, Germany, where this example will go up for sale on the 14th of September with an estimate of €3,500 — €6,500. Heuer Chess Champion You have to hand it to Heuer, if there's one thing they were good at in their heyday, it was working their timing knowhow into every possible application known to man. Motorsports? Check. Yachting? You betcha. Equestrian timing? That as well. The list goes on and on, and just the other day, I was delighted to learn of another activity on the list. As the name of this piece would suggest, we're talking about chess, which is likely the only way to make a vintage watch article more nerdy than it already is. As a self-proclaimed nerd myself (perhaps more appealing moniker of the "thinking man," is an improvement) I couldn't be more excited to share this discovery with you. This is what's known as a Chess Champion, which was actually produced by a clock manufacturer by the name of Looping. Knowing this, it makes sense why a bit of digging will reveal seemingly identical clocks branded with the Looping name instead of Heuer. Names aside, it's a fascinating mechanism capable of alternating timings, allowing for the precise tracking of turns during a game of chess. My guess is this would've been used primarily in competitive settings, though I wouldn't put it past someone to purchase one for home use way back when. After all, anything is possible. Included with the timing device itself is the original guarantee and instruction booklet, which is specific to the Chess Champion, given its unique functionality. The seller has also stated that the included box is original, which is indeed true. Don't be alarmed by the fact that there's no Heuer markings on it, as further research has revealed this to be consistent with other box and papers examples. Even if you're one for chess, I could see this making a terrific addition to the collection of any dedicated Heuer collector, or someone simply looking to fill a bit of shelf space with an intriguing object. This example of the Heuer Chess Champion is being offered on eBay by an Australian seller, who's started the bidding at $630.00 AU, equating to roughly $420.00 USD. At the time of publishing, there are no bids as yet. IWC Cal. 83 There's always something to be said for a smart looking time-only piece from the 1940s, and that's exactly what we're about to do before wrapping things up this week. Among the usual suspects from this realm of refined taste are Longines, Omega, Universal Genève, Zenith and Patek Philippe, though one mustn't forget about this era's time-only offerings from IWC, as they truly are some of the absolute best. From their top tier movements to the restrained yet hard-hitting aesthetics, there's a lot to get lost in. Today's example in question is a stunner if I do say so myself. Starting with what's on the inside, you've got IWC's Cal. 83, which, much like the M90 we discussed at the beginning of the article, is one of the more visually stimulating calibers in its class. Its capabilities are conveyed on the dial side by a set of "alpha" style hands. This is all cased within a 35 mm hunk of stainless steel, with a lug shape similar to that of Patek Philippe's Ref. 1518. Maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but it's just what I'm seeing. Condition wise, the piece is in excellent shape, save for what would appear to be a few scuffs on the dial. With that said, we're still talking about overwhelmingly attractive piece, and no dinged-up derelict by any means. If in search for a watch fit for approaching any given Sunday in style, I'd both start and stop your search here. You'll find this IWC being offered by a collector on Instagram by the name of @watch_nut, with a $5,000 asking price.