Interesting patina and objective rarity are the name of the game this week. In this installment of Bring A Loupe, you'll find picks like a seldom-seen Movado chronograph featuring Breguet numerals, in addition to a rare and early Rolex Explorer with potentially notable provenance. In an effort to shed more light on square-cased watches, there's another rather stunning Movado, again with Breguet numerals on its patina-heavy dial, plus a Universal Genève that enjoys an affectionate nickname. Here we go!
Universal Genève 'Cioccolatone' Ref. 10239/1

"Watch collectorese" is one of the most fascinating and funny dialects, and I happen to be fluent in it. This internationally understood tongue is made up of a handful of languages, a seemingly endless number of esoteric abbreviations, and seeing as it's 2019, hashtags have now entered the mix. Given the taste making reputation Italian collectors enjoy, it makes perfect sense that some of the best watch collecting terms hail from the boot-shaped nation. In a past installment of Bring A Loupe we discussed the Ovettone, and with that out of the way, it’s time we move on to another linguistic curiosity that’s equally as fun to say. Enter the Cioccolatone!*
You might've heard of this one before, but for the uninitiated, allow me to play translator. Cioccolatone are square-shaped timepieces, notably produced by Vacheron Constantin, Rolex, and Omega, among others. With wide bezels and lightly rounded corners, they bear an unmistakable resemblance to the little chocolates you might've been lucky enough to receive from a special someone last Thursday. In a world that's undeniably dominated by round wristwatches, I thought we’d take a look at one of my favorite takes on the Cioccolatone, produced by Universal Genève.*
What you're looking at is the ref. 10239/1, and a particularly sharp looking example at that. I've always loved the integration of a circular dial and crystal into a square case, especially when it's executed as tastefully as such. With an engine turned bezel, chunky lugs, and an applied Universal Genève logo, this reference is bound to hold your interest for years to come, just as it's captivated me from first sight. I'm guessing this example has possibly been polished at some point, though the case still remains thick, with a what would appear to be an import hallmark and all. The dial also looks to be pretty clean, and with a quick polishing of the crystal, the full extent of its beauty will be unleashed. This is definitely a case of "bad pictures, nice watch."
An eBay seller based out of Cold Spring, New York, has this piece listed with a starting bid of $950. Follow this link to take a stab at making it your own.
Movado M90 Chronograph

Watches are often described as under appreciated in an attempt to stimulate the market and generate interest, but know that when I use the term, it's simply because I think something is downright cool and far too many are sleeping on it. There's no angle being worked here – just a watch obsessed nerd who wants to share some insights and geek out a bit over wrist-mounted trinkets. For a long time, Movado could've been described as under appreciated, but it would seem that the masses are growing increasingly more hip to the genius that lies in the company's early watchmaking efforts.*
The brand did produce a wide range of Calatrava style pieces and more complicated calendars, though the chronographs have always been the main attraction in my book. Both the caliber M90 and M95 were trailblazers in the world of chronograph production, seeing as they featured a slightly modular construction which hadn’t been widely attempted at the time of their release. They also happen to be some of the smartest looking in-house chronograph calibers, with architecture like no other, making them truly deserving of your interest and attention.*
These chronographs are quickly becoming staples of the vintage watch collecting mainstream, with notable auction results and all to back them up, and as a result, it’s become tougher to find desirable variants which fly under the radar of most. I do realize that by including this Breguet numeral fitted, M90-equipped chronograph in this week's roundup, I'm practically making it an alien mothership sized blip on the radar, but alas, it was too cool to not share with you. Though its dial might be less than perfect, the multiple scales, blued steel hands, and subtle Movado branding are really special. M90 chronographs of this size are also quite rare, so it's got that going for it as well.*
This Movado is being offered by an eBay seller in Miami, Florida. At the time of publishing the bidding stands at $719. Find the full listing here.
Rolex Explorer Ref. 6610

I strongly believe that the 36mm Rolex Explorer is the greatest sports watch ever made. Even if you set aside their celebrated history and involvement in countless feats of human achievement, the watch itself stands on its own as a titan of design. The case proportions are simply perfect and the dials are nothing if not legible, making for an altogether versatile and to-the-point timepiece that's wildly versatile. Bravely traversing a mountain range? You're set. Black tie affair later that night? Still good to go.*
Though the long running ref. 1016 is probably what most vintage watch collectors think of when 36mm Explorers are brought up, I tend to prefer the earlier ref. 6610, which you'd be forgiven for mistaking as a 1016. This reference replaced the ref. 6150 – another nearly identical looking Explorer – and incorporated the newer caliber 1030 movement which afforded a slimmer caseback than its predecessor. Certain examples were even fitted with dials sporting red depth ratings, along with white seconds hands, creating an altogether more compelling aesthetic. The one in question today features such a seconds hand, and looks to be a top-notch specimen if I do say so myself. While the case may has almost certainly been polished, the dial is pretty clean, and all the applications of luminous radium have aged evenly. This is what an honest watch looks like.*
Furthermore, you'll notice that the caseback has been engraved with the name A.D. Henderson. Being the insatiable research junkie that I am, I naturally consulted the interwebs to find out exactly who this character was, and think I might have just figured it out. A quick search of the name pointed me in the direction of the Henderson family tree, in which there are many A.D. Henderson's. Given the age of the watch, I'd hazard a guess that this piece could've belonged to Alexander Dawson Henderson Jr., who was one of the driving forces behind the direct selling beauty company Avon. While it can't be confirmed with absolute certainty that this is the same A.D. Henderson, I think it’s likely, and will post further findings down in the comments should I come across anything of note.*
This example of the ref. 6610 will be offered next week by Sterling Vault Auctioneers in the English town of Farnham. The estimate has been set at £16,000–18,000, though bids starting at £12,000 are already being accepted. Check out the listing here.
Tropical Breitling Navitimer AOPA Ref. 806

The 1960s were a great time for chronograph design. While cases grew a bit bigger and many dials got a bit more outlandish, chronographs were still purpose-built mechanisms for demanding professionals whose livelihoods depended on the accuracy of their instruments. Breitling is well known for their history of supplying pilots with chronographs, most notably the legendary Navitimer, with its several scales and special bezel that allowed for precise calculations while up in the air. Though I might've shared ref. 806s I've come across in the past, I don’t think I’ve shared one as unique and original as the one we’re about to take a look at. Buckle up and prepare for liftoff.*
As previously mentioned, this is a ref. 806 Navitimer, which is more or less the archetypal Navitimer that'll come to the minds of most upon mention of the model's name. Where it strays from the norm is in the way that its dial has aged, to a chocolate tropical tone. Examples of the 806 have been known to achieve tropical status over years of wear and exposure to the elements, though this is undoubtedly one of the more tropical examples I’ve seen. If the dial wasn't enough to convince you here, direct your focus toward the stainless steel case, which remains unpolished and crisp to this very day.*
Its seller has hit the nail right on the head when he states that it's a "time capsule" watch, so much so that it even includes the original Breitling strap that the watch was presumably sold on (not the strap you see in the photo above, by the way). Should you be in the market for an 806, I recommend you both start and end your search with this watch. The bold presence of the reference is only intensified by its tropical dial, making this example a real stand-out piece.*
This piece is currently listed for sale on Instagram, with an asking price of $12,000. Find it here.
Movado Square w/ Breguet Numerals

After coming across that first Movado up above, I was lucky enough to stumble upon another example that also features Breguet numerals. Unlike the previously mentioned chronograph, what we've got here tracks only the hours, minutes, and seconds, but all within an uncommon square case. Plus the watch just so happens to be powered by another gorgeous caliber. If my knowledge of Movado calibers serves me correctly, this is the cal. 150MN, which, like the cal. M90, is quite the stunner. I've always been fond of the way the bridges are bulbously shaped in particular.
With that said, the main attraction here is without question the dial. Though it might have left the factory looking white or perhaps silver, it has aged over time to effectively match the custard tone of the luminous applications, which you'll find in both the blued steel hands and on the dial's Breguet numerals. The center of the dial, however, looks have to have been produced with a different finish, given how it hasn't aged as dramatically, making for a pleasing contrast.*
This piece also has one of the more interesting case designs I've seen in a while. On either side of the square case, you'll find sliding steel components, which run along a track, securing the caseback. Early alternatives to conventional case designs never fail to amaze me, as they reflect the inspired eagerness to try out new ideas that arguably defined watchmaking in the 1940s. All in all, this is a wildly interesting watch, that with the right strap could be an outstanding sight to see on your wrist.*
Should you be interested, try your hand at bidding on eBay, where this piece is being offered by a seller out of Billings, Montana. The opening bid is set at $300. Click here for the full scoop.


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