Late last week, I found myself sitting in the office of a notable dealer down south, being handed watch after watch, each one more unconventionally interesting than the last. There were pieces flown on the space shuttle, watches with dials bearing seldom-seen signatures of long-gone retailers, and pieces still largely overlooked by the masses, along with a hefty helping of heavy hitters too. You name it, he had it. This lead to a discussion regarding the market’s future, collecting for yourself, and the beauty of the decidedly weirder vintage pieces up for grabs today. Having said this, consider this week a bit of an ode to the oddballs, of sorts. A celebration of quirks, if you will. We’ve got a Tudor with Canadian Kodak provenance, an outstanding time-only Heuer, and one of the best buys in vintage watch collecting – a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox. At the sportier end of the spectrum, there’s what many regard as the earliest dive watch, plus a Breitling pilot’s chronograph cased in 18k gold. For good measure, there’s a history lesson or two thrown in, so you can flex on your fellow collectors at the next nerdy get together. Let's do this.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox

Vintage watches are a finite collectible asset by nature, and with knowledge of the genius that characterized eras of watchmaking past becoming more mainstream, prices for desirable models are continually rising. Collector friends of mine will often complain that they slept on great references only to now find them beyond their reach. When it comes to finding value today though, I think early examples of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox are one of the best finds out there, as not only are they fitted with sophisticated, unique calibers, but they're also still relatively accessible for budding collectors.*
Though there is something undeniably cool about an oversized vintage watch, I’ve always personally preferred the Memovox within the confines of a 35mm case. Considering the multiple protruding crowns, it just seems to work better on my wrist at that size. With this in mind, I was pleased to find a stunning example dating back to the 1950s coming up for sale in flawless condition. It also includes what I believe to be the original box.
Should you put condition above all else (hint: you should) then you’ll surely get a kick out of this one. Its case would appear to be unpolished, with sharply defined lines, and the dial looks to be essentially perfect too. The only flaw I can find is a bit of discoloration within the rose gold numeral at four o’clock, but that’s not really something to write home about. While no movement shots have been supplied by the auction house that will be offering this watch, my bet is that it’s either powered by the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 17 jewel Cal. 489, the shock protected Cal. P489, or something slightly later from the cal. 814 family, as I’ve seen other, identical-looking examples fitted with these movements. All in all, a top notch watch. Say that 10 times fast!
Larchmont, New York’s Clark Auction Gallery will be offering this Memovox in a sale taking place on April 7, with a conservative estimate of $300 to $500. Should this happen to sell for anywhere within the estimate, you could have a seriously sweet deal on your hands.*See the full listing here.
1959 Tudor Oyster Air Lion Ref. 7958 With Kodak Provenance

To get things started this week, we’ve got a watch that further confirmed a bit of hunch of mine. As a photographer and collector of early Kodak marketing materials, I like to keep my eyes out for watches associated with the American manufacturer of film and imaging products. This constant hunt has resulted in a few noteworthy finds over the years, including a honeycomb dial Tudor I came across the other day. Flip the watch over, and you’ll find an engraved caseback suggesting it was awarded to a gentleman by the name of Arthur J. Sansom after he spent 40 years at the company.*
To date, I’ve come across roughly six other watches presented to Kodak employees either upon their retirement or after having completed however many decades of service with the company. Understandably, the more desirable of the bunch were the former, being modest Rolex Oysters executed in either solid gold or two-tone cases. The latter have always been Tudors, but attractive references at that, suggesting a logically hierarchical nature to the photographic firm’s watch allotment system.*
A bit of research indicates that Sansom worked for the company’s Canadian operation out of my hometown of Toronto, which specialized in the distribution of Kodak’s own cameras and consumer film products. I was lucky enough to even come across a newspaper clipping from Rochester’s Democrat And Chronicle, which commemorates Sansom’s completion of 40 years service at Kodak – along with the work of countless others – which would have been published at the same time he was presented with the watch.*
On its own, the watch admittedly isn’t all that interesting. At the end of the day, we’re talking about a gold-plated Tudor that measures just 32mm across, but if you take a step back and appreciate the bigger picture (aren’t I punny), there’s a lot to like. I’ve always enjoyed a watch with a story, and this one is no exception. Given its smaller size, I think it’d make an excellent women’s watch.*
This watch is currently being offered for sale on eBay for $1,450. Find the full listing here.*
18k Breitling Chronomat Ref. 808

Purpose-built tool watches produced in solid gold have always fascinated me, as in all seriousness, they make just about zero sense. Precision and accuracy are the ultimate goals of this sort of watch, not head turning bling and opulent shininess, but in a weird way I’d argue that’s what makes such paradoxical timepieces so appealing. There’s a certain beauty in self-contradiction – a notion embodied properly by my next pick of the week.*
What you’re looking at is a ref. 808 Chronomat from Breitling, which is the second Chronomat reference to be introduced before the large cased ref. 818 went into production. This reference emerged towards the end of the 1950s after much success with the slide rule functionality that made the ref. 769 so sought after. Unlike its predecessor, this reference features a cleaner dial aesthetic, thanks to Breitling’s decision to relocate the Swiss cross and patent number to the caseback, allowing for increased legibility in the cockpit or on the tarmac.*
Like the previously featured Jaeger-LeCoultre, I don’t believe this Breitling has ever fallen victim to the wrath of the wretched polishing wheel, as the beveled edges found on the sides of its case remain clearly visible. The large hallmarks and engravings on the back of its caseback are also still well defined, suggesting that it perhaps wasn’t worn much over the years. Some dealers would be quick to tack the words “new old stock” to the listing title of a watch like such, but I’m not about to do that, because who really knows. If you’re still not impressed, take a look at that dial. Absolutely perfect – nuff said.
This Breitling will be offered by Nadeau’s Auction Gallery out of Windsor, Connecticut, on April 27, with an estimate of $1,000 to $2,000. Check out all the details here.
1938 Omega Marine Ref. CK 679

There is something to be said for a first. First car, first kiss, first man on the – no matter what the event or milestone may be, it's usually a bit of a big deal when preceded by the word first. In watch collecting circles, horological firsts are often quite well known and celebrated, but rather curiously, there’s still one that flies right under the radar of many. This of course is the very first watch designed, tested, and approved for diving, and it was produced by none other than Omega.
Rolex may have patented the screw down crown, but Omega found another way to the bottom of the sea by way of case design. Through the use of two cases – one to house the movement, and another hermetically sealed one which the first slides into – and a securing, spring-loaded clip, the Marine achieved an impressive depth rating certification of up to 135 meters at the time of its release. Just how waterproof this example originally delivered to Sweden in 1938 is in 2019 is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t advise taking it in the pool on vacation.
What you’re looking at is an honest example of the ref. CK 679 Marine. The case isn’t exactly sharp, and the original diver’s extension clasp is no longer with the watch, though these pieces rarely come up for sale, so finding one at all is somewhat of a big deal. Luckily, the aforementioned factors are both reflected in its estimate. The romantic idealist in me would like to believe its present state would suggest a storied past of being used for its intended purpose, but I’m in no position to make guarantees.*
The Swedish auction house Bukowski’s will offer this rare dive watch in their sale taking place on April 9 in Stockholm. Its sale estimate has been set at 28,000*SEK, which equates to roughly $3,000. You can see more photos and the full listing here.
1950s 14k Gold Time-Only Heuer

When someone says Heuer, chronographs are what immediately come to mind, and for very good reason. Thanks to a long history of iconic watches, including the legendary Carrera, Autavia, Monaco, and Camaro, chronographs have more or less come to define the brand and their contribution to the world of horology as a whole. With that said, it’s important to not gloss over their time only offerings, especially those introduced prior to the 1970s. They really are their own sort of special, and most certainly deserving of your attention.*
My personal interest in this chapter of Heuer’s time-only history has largely been defined by a never-ending quest to make meaning of the stars seen on dials like that of the watch in question. After years of scouring of forums and consulting those more knowledgable than myself to little success, I’ve more or less given up on the mission, and learned to accept them simply as an aesthetically pleasing addition to such dials. And while on the topic of pleasing aesthetics, just take a look a look at this thing! With its uniquely shaped hour and minute hands that trace its to-the-point dial, there’s a lot to love here. Pair that with the 34mm 14k gold case, and you’ve got a supremely classy piece.*
You might notice that the caseback of this watch would appear to be stainless steel, leading one to question whether the case itself is in fact solid or merely plated with gold. With a little bit of research, I can confidently say it is solid, after furthering my knowledge of Heuer’s case configurations offered throughout the 1950s. Take a look for yourself. This can be confirmed by examining early catalogs, in which you’ll find both watches advertised as having “20 Micron, and Goldauflage” cases, alongside solid gold cases, and solid gold cases “mit Stahlboden,” indicating the use of a stainless steel caseback. While I now know this to be correct, I’m admittedly not all that sure why such configurations were offered. Should you have more insight concerning this matter, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.*
An eBay seller based out of Omaha, Nebraska, is currently offering this Heuer with no reserve. At the time of publishing, the high bid stands at $202.50. The full listing can be found here.*


More...