It's Friday, which means we've got another hot and spicy order of vintage watches coming right up for your enjoyment. All budgets have been taken into consideration this week, with picks like an impossibly sharp Movado 431 coming in at under the $1,000 mark, going all the way up into five figures with a knockout Royal Oak. For those that enjoy oddities, you're in luck, as there's a top quality Juvenia Arithmo, along with a quarter-repeating Driva to raise the stakes. We’re also making a case for the comeback of Universal Genève, so reading up is advisable.*
Universal Genève Polerouter Sub

Every now and again, the naming rights of old, revered watchmakers will be purchased and used to brand new offerings, to varying degrees of success. Over the past few years, we've seen it happen a few times, but never in a way that really flips the script and makes waves. The go-to move for such brands is always to roll out a reissue, but this can be quite hit or miss, depending on a new firm's ability to translate celebrated designs into the modern era – and more importantly, the strength of early designs to begin with. With a laundry list of exceptional designs and devoted collectors under their belt, most would agree that Universal Genève is ripe for revival. To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised it hasn’t already happened. Someone buy that name already! This next UG is inspirational proof that this comeback has to happen eventually.*
You're looking at a fine example of a first execution Super Compressor case Polerouter Sub, which is coming up fro sale soon at Fortuna. This has long been one of my favorite pieces from Universal Genève, due in part to those mildly bizarre, googly-eye-like hour markings with small luminous applications. Super Compressor case Polerouter Subs are often looked upon with furrowed brows, thanks to an Australian counterfeiting fiasco that birthed a number of less than authentic second execution examples some years back, but there’s no doubting the authenticity of this earlier example, which passes the fake test with flying colors.*
At 42 mm across, this dive watch has serious presence on the wrist, that's only intensified by the presence of two crowns. The only noticeable downside to this piece worth mentioning is the slight damage to the small application of luminous compound at twelve o’clock, but it luckily doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. And if the Polerouter Sub isn’t for you, fear not, as the same Fortuna sale has several other iterations of the Polerouter in its catalogue.
This Polerouter Sub will be up for grabs at Fortuna Auction's June 5th sale taking place in New York, with an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. More photos and information provided by the auction house is available here.*
Driva Quarter Repeater

The ridiculous number of near microscopic, precisely engineered components that make up a mechanical movement definitely led to me getting in on the whole watch thing in the first place. I've always found it equal parts fascinating and hilarious to think that you can have over 100 expensive, tiny pieces of metal sitting pretty on your wrist – all working together in perfect harmony to perform a relatively mundane function. This initial spark was only further ignited upon first encountering a repeater, which as you’ll know ups the ante by way of bringing sound into the mix. Ever since I first heard one chime at point blank range, I've been obsessed, but also admittedly a bit intimidated by the prices many command. If you too long for a repeater but lack the oil baron-esque finances to get one on your wrist, I might have a solution.
Driva's a bit of a strange brand, with not much of a storied history, and few notable models to its name. In the past, I've come across Driva-branded Spillmann chronographs, along with a mid-70s TV, radio, and calculator watch of questionable functionality, but the stand-outs have always been their quarter repeaters. In comparison to a minute repeater, which chimes the hour, quarter hours, and minutes, the quarter repeater strikes just the hour, and the quarter-hours, and Drivas do it in style, with most examples I’ve seen being tastefully executed. This watch is no exception.*
These quarter repeaters are believed to date back to the 1930s, during which an understandable very few were produced. Many online are quick to whip out the "only 1,500 were made" figure, which I've tried to confirm to no success. Regardless of the validity of this claim, there's no denying that these are rare watches that seldom come up for sale. For a taste of the repeater realm at a reduced rate, this is likely your best and only option.*
An eBay seller based out of Toronto is asking a dollar less than $8,000 for this rare (and serviced!) repeater. Making an offer is an option, as well, so take a stab at it here.*
Movado 431

However many years back, after the lore-like tale of the Goodwill LeCoultre went viral, I became somewhat obsessed with the idea of a really cheap find, just as I'm sure others did. Since then, I've learned that single digit acquisitions of five figure watches don't happen everyday, and have taken a collector's solace of sorts in relatively cheap finds. This is one of the many reasons why I scour eBay on a daily basis, like a crazed, pseudo-hoarder, flea market fiend. While it may sound impossibly cliché, you really do never know when you’re going to find that next watch score. One such score surfaced the other day, in the form of an untouched and original Movado. Rather than scoop it up for myself, I thought I’d share it with you, and see how long it took for someone to claim it as theirs. How selfless!*
This is one of the more uniquely cased watches from Movado to be powered by the Cal. 431, with all its original luminous applications nicely patinated and intact. What's more, is the case is still sharp and unpolished, with well defined lines. Take a closer look at some of the shots, and you’ll notice there’s a nicely made buckle that I believe to be either original, or period correct at minimum. A Movado branded strap is one thing, but the right buckle ready to go is a real luxury that saves the hassle of tracking one down after getting the watch.*
For under $1,000, it's really hard to do better than this. Sure, you could go for a somewhat mass-produced, modern budget offering, but we both know it’s that funky, vintage, je ne sais quoi that gets us going, and likely got you to read this article in the first place. Collecting for investment purposes is never wise, but this is a watch that's worth more than what the seller is after. Do with that information what you will.
This relatively cheap and immensely cheerful Movado is being offered on eBay by a seller in Swampscott, Massachusetts, for $698. You also have the option to make an offer here.*
Juvenia Arithmo 'Calculating Watch'

If you've been reading this column for a while, you probably know it's no secret that I dig eccentricity. Submariners are fun and all, but it's a bunch more fun knowing that what's on your wrist can’t also be found on the wrists of five others in the room. One of the best parts of vintage watch collecting is the expression of individuality it affords, and with a seemingly endless number of interesting back catalogues to flip through, I figure you might as well live it up a little and let your freak flag fly. Before I go full soapbox, allow me to introduce you the first of a few quirky pieces in this week's roundup.*
Just as the Second World War came to a close, Juvenia unveiled a new wristwatch known as the Arithmo, which featured a logarithmic, slide-rule bezel, within the confines of a 36 mm stainless steel case. The brand marketed it as the "world’s first calculator watch," but in truth, the title belongs to Mimo, who patented a slide-rule bezel for use in the "Loga" in 1940. While it might not be the first, I’d argue that it’s the best looking of the bunch, largely due to the bulbous bezel that almost seems to be of greater importance to the overall design than time telling functions.*
The one I complaint I usually have with Arithmo examples is that the since the slide rule bezel is covered by a plexiglass crystal of its own, the inner components of the bezel are often scuffed or discolored over years of wear. This example's bezel isn't perfect, but it's without question the cleanest I've seen to date, and given the infrequency of Arithmos surfacing, it’s safe to say it’s the cleanest one we'll see in a good long while. A theme of cleanliness recurs throughout inspecting the watch, thanks to the pristine condition of the original dial, blued steel handset, and thick nature of the stainless steel case. If you’ve been after an Arithmo for a while, this is the one to get.*
Amsterdam Vintage Watches is offering this timepiece for the mathematically inclined for €3,400. Further details can be found here.*
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 5402 B-Series

On any given Sunday, it's fairly easy to find examples of most important sports watches. They're simply out there. Finding the right example, however, is an entirely different story. Putting in the time to sift through a sea of meh, mediocre, and middle-of-the-road is required, until that truly outstanding example surfaces – at which point one must pounce. In some disciplines of watch collecting, the hunt doesn't take all that long, but as we've discussed in the past, this is not the case with Audemars Piguet. Extremely limited production numbers have made noteworthy examples few and far between in today's market, but that's not to say they're non-existent. Case in point, this ridiculous Royal Oak.
What separates this example from the rest is the condition it's being offered in, which as the article's visual accompaniment would suggest, is nothing short of incredible. For some, the visible signs of aging which surround the various luminous indices might be seen as a drawback, but for me that's this piece's cherry on top. Valuing honesty and originality above all when it comes to vintage watches, this is something I love to see as it speaks to the untouched and unmolested nature of the example. Should you still not be convinced that this is what an untouched Royal Oak looks like, might I suggest shifting your attention towards the case and bracelet. I've seen unpolished 5402's before, but never one as sharp as this, making this a benchmark case by which all other 5402 cases can be judged.*
While we're on the topic of early Royal Oaks, I'd like to point something out that unfortunately gets lost on many collectors. Though the B-Series 5402 is seen by many as less desirable in comparison to the trailblazing, OG A-Series that started it all, it's worth noting that B-Series examples are in fact more rare. The general consensus is that over the course of A-Series production, 2000 pieces were manufactured. This is quite literally double the total production of B-Series examples, with just 1,000 having been produced. With all this said, both are exceptionally rare watches at the end of the day, but do let the record show that the B-Series takes the cake.
The Keystone has this exceptional, early example of the Royal Oak listed on their website with an asking price of $48,000. Find more photos and details right here.*
Special Mention: Neil Armstrong’s Douglas Watch

While most were focused on the auction world happenings in Geneva over the past week, I found myself glued to a non-watch sale taking place in Dallas, Texas. Heritage Auctions had the pleasure of selling many personal possessions of none other than Neil Armstrong, and as a total space nut, I took heed. Though the space-flown objects were beyond exciting, it was the sole vintage watch that captured my attention.*
The watch itself is nothing exciting – merely a generic, low-grade vintage diver – but the provenance is undoubtedly what makes this one, and the numbers don't lie. I was hoping that the watch would go unnoticed, but it did anything but, seeing as it fetched $5,500 in the end. If this were anyone else's watch, you'd be looking at maybe a $30 sale, but as both you and I know, Neil Armstrong isn't exactly just anyone. All in all, I’m declaring this to be the best auction result of 2019 so far.*


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