Watches

I have always enjoyed my watches so the time has come to catalogue them I suppose. I have included watches previously but no longer owned (whether having been moved on/sold or simply lost in the mists of time!

As with many I suppose my first watch was a boys analogue watch to learn how to tell the time but has long since disappeared (though knowing my folks they may well have it tucked away somewhere, I'll have to ask!).

What I suppose was my first 'grown up' watch would have been at about the age of 12 having moved to 'big school', a friend had a 'Timex Rallye' but I got this one for my birthday which was a Timex diver. For some reason I have always favoured the chunkier diver watches and are a common thread through the collection over the years. This was an automatic on a steel strap which was of course too big for me so was replaced with a black and navy blue leather strap which suited it well. Unfortunately the rotating bezel was a clip on with a fairly brittle plastic retainer which of course broke off after a while so I left it off most of the time but changed the look of the watch somewhat. Died from general teenage abuse eventually I think! Shame as these fetch over £100 on the bay these days so apparently quite sought after!

Early to mid teens corresponded with the quartz digital era so the replacement was a Timemaster LCD digital (very similar to the one above) obtained on 'easy terms' from Mum's mail order catalogue! There was a choice of two but I chose the bulkier alarm/chronometer which served me well until it died giving random readings in the early 80's. I feel a bit guilty that I didn't get it looked at (it probably just needed new batteries) and it too has disappeared with the passage of time. The one above has a blue surround to the display where mine was all black and also plays tunes and chimes every hour by the look of it neither of which mine did. Notwithstanding there seem to be very few of these about these days.

The main reason I didn't persevere with the Timemaster digital was I inherited this nice looking Swiss made Corvette manually winding analogue. My Nanna (Dad's Mum) died in 1982 and I was asked if I wanted something of hers so chose this. Professional clean, lubricate and adjust at Hyde Park Jewellers near Mutley in Plymouth (a dry cleaning shop now I think!) not far from where I was working at the time and a new brown leather strap gave this a new lease of life and I still have it and occasionally wear it. It is a mans watch and allegedly may have reached my Nanna from a friend of hers (Charles) who fought in the war and reportedly/allegedly was the inspiration for Richard Burton's character (Major John Smith !!!) in the film and Alastair Maclean novel 'Where Eagles Dare'. Who knows, it may just be true but with no way of verifying any of it we will never know for sure!

Mid to later 1980's and Mum and Dad bought me a new Seiko '5' automatic watch one Christmas (1987?) which I wore for a long time. As with many Seiko's the steel strap isn't the best but did me well for years and I still have it though now on a leather strap. It really should be serviced but the initial quote was ridiculous (Jersey) but may have to do some catch up maintenance on some of the mechanical watches at some stage to keep them working.

For my 30th birthday I was bought a Rotary quartz diver watch which I was fairly pleased with until 1 year and 1 day after getting it it leaked in a shower of rain!!! Rotary agreed to repair it (it was supposed to be waterproof after all!) but made a complete hash of it (misaligned hour markers and rust actually appearing on the hands!). Yet more to-ing and fro-ing and they eventually offered me a new watch, a Rotary Aspen quartz diver with sapphire crystal! Quite an upgrade actually so no complaints in that respect, the trouble is it just wasn't a style I particularly liked at that time but it was reasonably well made, solid and kept good time so did me for another 9 years or so! The hands and hour marker appear to be deteriorating on my (fast approaching) 25 year old watch so truly a Rotary it seems!

As a sort of backup/work watch I was given some money one Christmas so got myself an LCD digital Casio digital chronometer (as a kind of homage to the old Timemaster) which I still have and still works fairly well (They are still available brand new would you believe more than 25 years later!). As with many cheaper digitals the metal strap was 'pants' so this has finally been replaced with a blue leather strap which I initially didn't think would suit it but actually looks quite good.

Sun/Moon watch - Bit of an oddball this but I think they were fashionable back in the early 1990's. This one was something of a 'grey import' from a mail order catalogue based in Hong Kong! It was cheap as I recall but being a standard quartz movement keeps good time, ubfortunately the 'gold' plating is not too good and now mostly worn off to base metal but its a nice curiosity nonetheless. The two chapter rings for hours and minutes rotate driven by the top and bottom crowns.

Fishbone - Not a dive watch but perhaps a watersports/swimmers watch. Initially bought a small one of these for my son when he was 7 or 8 as it looked good and was impressed so looked out for a full size one, this is it. The original 'Fishbone' rubber strap split a few years ago so it has an aftermarket rubber/silicone strap now. Unfortunately one of the strap spring bars broke and it fell to the tiled floor in our bathroom and shattered the crystal which was a smooth dome shaped to match the watch case but not available as spares it seems so it now has a standard mineral domed crystal. Not as nice but still looks good and comfortable to wear with its extended case shoulders.

On reaching 40 (where life begins?!) I was bought a rather nice Omega Speedmaster automatic by my then lady friend. It was a lovely watch but perhaps not the model or appearance I would have chosen for myself being very similar to the white faced Rotary but a lovely thing, very accurate (despite not being a certified chronometer) and I wore it and enjoyed it continuously for 10 years, it seeing my move from Plymouth to Jersey, meeting and marrying Julie but ultimately there was I suppose some history attached ("thats the watch 'she' bought you isn't it?!") so ended up in later years just not wearing it all that much and finally put it up for sale in 2019 and has now been moved on. I love Omega watches but its pretty unlikely I'll ever have the cash to get another and with what is now getting to be a fairly extensive watch collection there's just not the compunction to go that way again I'm afraid.

Pulsar chronograph 'Wedding watch' - J's very occasional 'hints' as to the source of my Omega meant getting something different to wear on our wedding day and we spotted this when buying our wedding rings from a jeweller in Guernsey of all places. Its a big old lump but has good presence and whilst it doesn't get worn often is nice as a dress chrono watch.

On my 50th birthday Mum and Dad wanted to get me something I'd use and appreciate and this appealed (being a car enthusiast and particularly an Abarth fan) so obtained this Italian 'Breil Abarth' quartz chonograph. Its chunky but excellent with good presence and nice to wear with its quality leather strap.

Henry of London - birthday present from Gibraltar - J and I were on holiday in Gibraltar at the time of my 51st birthday and we spotted this in a high street jewellers there, 'nice watch' I said so she bought it for me!! Nice gold colour case and blue/turquoise leather strap go well I think. Probably more manageable then the circa £25k Omega we saw in the airport shop when the time came to leave the rock!

Interesting one this!! Its a French automatic 200m 'professional' divers watch apparently of some age (60's/70's?). Very little apart from that to go on other than Montre Mougin Picquard started trading in the 19th Century (1852 I understand) and made watches almost continuously I think until being taken over by an American company (J. Crews) a few years ago. The nearest equivalent to this in their current range is several hundred dollars but nothing more to go on for this one though I recently found this link https://www.thecoolector.com/mougin-piquard-watches/. Now the good bit!! This was spotted looking a bit scruffy and with a broken glass in a second hand shop in Brittany for 2 euros (I kid you not). The shop keeper said it just needed a new battery but as I walked around the shop the sweep second hand started ticking!! Having been sent off to Express Watchmakers in Plymouth for a new crown/winding pin and a new crystal and we have a very nice old watch! Keeps pretty good time too needing little adjutment when worn regularly and looks good on a 'Bond' NATO strap which suits it pretty well I think.

Beuchat is a French diving equipment manufacturer with Montre Beuchat being an offshoot that makes quite nice dive watches. Back when I was having problems with the Rotary, Express Watchmakers in Plymouth sold these and I seriously would have liked to get a blue quartz professional like the old (and well worn) one on the right above but not to be! The manufacturer subsequently pulled out of the UK market but of course living in France I had spotted these from time to time recently. J wanted to get me a watch for my birthday in 2019 so the rather nice blue quartz diver above (GB-1950 being modelled on a 1950's Rolex Submariner complete with date 'cyclops') is now part of the stable! Its a fairly chunky watch but nicely made and I think looks pretty good.

J gave me the Beuchat above while we were on holiday in sunny Lanzarote early 2019 and the day of my birthday we were sat at a bar enjoying a beer in the sun when a very jolly African street trader with dreadlocks came along selling his (self professed) 'genuine imitation Rolex watches' amongst other things. This looked nice for not many euros and whilst I have struggled to find the actual Rolex model it purports to imitate and its very lightweight and sounds 'clinky' when taken off it looks good though perhaps more in the appearance of perhaps a Bulova or Rado though there are such thinks as Rolex Blaken special editions. Whatever, this is a nice little diversion but care as to where I use it due to international copyright laws!!

Well the Omega was finally sold, for quite a fair price I thought (to Watchfinder who gave it a make over and it soon was on their website for a respectable mark up but serviced, polished and looking mint!!), and has now been replaced with a new Seiko Prospex Automatic 'PADI' Special Edition 200m diver. Its a lovely watch, looks bigger off than on the wrist due to good design (curved 'turtle' case) and a good quality metal strap. I also bought a shark mesh stainless strap with deployment buckle and a matching blue NATO strap each of which look good (its easy to change out the strap on these) and it has proved to be extremely accurate for a 'non-chronometer' so all in all well pleased. I secured a really good deal as well. Seiko prices had just gone up in late 2019 but I was able to get this through 'First Class Watches' in the UK who gave a percentage reduction and took the VAT off so significantly less than I had expected to pay. The blue dial looks superb though perhaps slightly more understated than my Beuchat diver and the self winding mechanism is pretty much silent and gives a good reserve (up to 41 hours they claim!).

COMING SOON

More will follow later on this!