Friday 27 October 2017

Sunday 15/10/17 to Saturday 28/10/17- Another Typewriter Find, A Watchmaker Find, A Staggering Wristwatch Auction Result, & This Month's Wristwatches

I washed a pair of jeans recently. Hadn't worn them for a few months. Hung them out to dry and then gave them a light iron to get the main creases and wrinkles out of them before folding them up and putting them into the wardrobe.
Wore them to work the following day and noticed that they felt just a little tighter than they did the last time I tried them on. They must've shrunk a little in the wash.

I wore these jeans again a week later and paired them with a grey t-shirt and an indigo blue short-sleeved shirt. Then I looked down at my stomach to see a paunch that seemed to have materialised overnight. What the hell!!!???
Looking at my belt, I saw that I was wearing it two notches looser that I normally do. 
Okay, it appears that I've put on a little bit of middle-aged spread, I thought to myself.
Needless to say, I wasn't crazy about this. I have a thin build. Call me skinny. I'm around five-ten and weigh 162 pounds.
Until I jumped on the bathroom scale and saw that I was now hovering just under 167 pounds.
Oh my God!

My wife found this all quite amusing; "You're forgetting that you've had an office job, sitting at a desk for the last year and a half, after decades of jobs where you were constantly on your feet and moving around. Not only that, but your metabolism has probably slowed down in recent years", she reminded me.

Either way, I gotta lose this gut. While I never had a six-pack stomach, I did always have one that was flat.
Time to get it back. And then try for a six-pack.

It's got a fairly hefty look to it, and the carriage has some weight to it when you slide it across to the right, but aside from that, it works quite well. Not sure if I'll keep it. I'll have to load a fresher ribbon into it and see how I feel about it after that. 
I've reached a point where I have enough typewriters to choose from, and I find that I don't use them much at the moment. 
I have one or two that I plan to sell, but I just have to get around to tidying them up a little first.
This Everest has a nice cream-coloured paint-job. Might give the name-plate a going over with some gold paint.

I mainly wore the Oris Diver Sixty-Five over the last couple of weeks;

I've spent the last few months looking for a watchmaker who could do the servicing on my Submariner 5513. Here's a pic from about two years ago;

 For those of you who might be unaware of the saga, here's a quick re-cap;

* I've wanted a 5513 ever since I was a kid, when I saw a Bond double-bill back in the mid-Seventies. 

* Finally got one in January 2015.

* In October that year, I was swapping the bracelet over to a NATO strap and the bezel and crystal fell away from the case;

 * Now, I already knew that the crystal and the bezel insert were after-market parts, so my intention was to take the watch to Rolex to get a quote for a service and replacement of these parts as well. 

* Their quote was a tad pricey at the time, so I put it all on the back-burner for the time being. 

* Fast forward to earlier this year and I took the watch back to Rolex to get an amended repair quote. They quoted pretty much the same as last time, but they also quoted for a set of replacement hands. This would be a deal-breaker for me. If they put new hands on the watch, they would not match the patina of the hour markers on the dial. 
The reason they wanted to change the hands was because, according to them, the luminous compound on them was beginning to crack. This can sometimes cause the broken particles to get into the movement.
I told them I would take my chances.
No dice.
I asked them if they could leave the hands alone, as a professional courtesy to somebody in the watch industry.
No dice.
They wouldn't budge. Fair enough, I thought. Wristwatch service centres are there to make your watch look and run like brand new, wherever possible. 
I declined the quote. Again. 

* Time for Plan B. I managed to find a new bezel insert, still sealed in its original packaging, from a dealer on eBay. I paid through the nose for it. I then bought a couple of after-market crystals from a watch parts supplier in the UK. These are German-made crystals and they're well regarded by collectors and watchmakers.
Next step would be to find a watchmaker who could do the work and, more importantly, save the lume on the hands. 
The luminous compound used on older watch dials and hands was Tritium. Prior to this, Radium -which is radioactive-  was used on pocket watches and wristwatches up until sometime in the 1950s. Tritium was a safer product. 
Over time, Tritium can become brittle and flaky, and can break off the dial and hands of a wristwatch. I had read of a technique where the weakened compound can be stabilised by painting the underside of the hands with nail lacquer or varnish. This acts as a glue and holds the lume in place. 
As far as I was concerned, it was worth a shot. 

* I began making a few enquiries among fellow watch nerds on the forums. I had heard good things about two watchmakers interstate. I was hoping to keep things local, though.

* Then I remembered a watchmaker I met once. He worked at a small suburban jewellery store before going off to work for the service centre of a Swiss watch brand. He did that for a few years and then bought the jewellery store he used to work for. I decide to give him a call. He was a nice guy. 

* I called his store and one of the ladies there told me that they were closing down in two weeks! I spoke to the watchmaker and told him I'd go around and visit him before he closed, if I got the chance.

* I saw him a week later and he explained that business had gotten tough while the rent had gotten higher in recent years. He had been offered a job back at the service centre where he'd worked previously. 
However, he gave me the name of a watchmaker who specialised in Rolex restoration work here in Melbourne. As it happened, the watchmaker he mentioned was a fellow I had heard of numerous times over the years. I should have gone to this guy to begin with. He told me that this watchmaker was currently overseas, but would be back in town first week of October. 

* I tried to call this watchmaker a few times earlier this month, but had no luck. He was either still overseas, or very busy. I sent him an e-mail and got a reply the next day. He said he was back in town. 
I replied to him, saying that I'd bring the watch to him sometime in the next couple of weeks. 

* And that's where it stands, thrill-seekers. My wife will take the kids in to Italian school next Saturday morning while I drive across town to this fellow's workshop, which happens to be a ten-minute drive from where I grew up.
Life can be funny sometimes. I'll be very interested to hear what he thinks of this watch and what it requires.

Friday the 13th rolled around and I decided to give the dive watches a break and switch to something vintage. I busted out the Camy Club-Star on the Speidel bracelet. 
I have to say it's been a very busy four or five months for me at work. The watch sales industry has gotten a little quiet this year, but it seems that the repair side of things has gotten busier. Makes sense. I noticed something similar about seven or so years ago when I sold watches at a boutique. Around the time of the GFC, when the US and Europe underwent financial hell, we saw a noticeable drop in retail sales of high-end wristwatches as Australia began to suspect that it was headed for a recession too, but there was a spike in our repair intake. People were getting their watches fixed rather than shelling out for new ones. 
I'm on top of my workload. I've implemented a routine whereby I slice up my workday so that I tackle different tasks throughout the day. If, say, eight new repairs come in, I allow two hours to book them in. If I only manage to book in six of them, I leave the remaining two for later in the day and move on to some other task. So far, so good. I'm finding that I end up with a spare half-hour later in the day and that's when I tackle the two remaining book-ins. It works well, and each day gives priority to different tasks. The wild cards, of course, are phone calls and/or e-mails  from clients wanting information on how the repair process works, or other technical questions. 
I have stipulated in my quotations that we do not provide individual updates during the repair time-frame, as there just isn't enough time throughout the day to respond to every enquiry, especially if a customer calls up in the early stages of a repair. I just have no new information to give them. It seems that nobody reads the important info in the quotes regarding turnaround times (six to ten weeks, depending on availability of parts) and possibilities of delays , etc. 
Still, I have to say that most customers are very understanding. 
But there are some folks...

I swung past a nearby Op Shop and snagged a used deck of Bicycle Playing Cards and a Book Club Edition of a Hemingway collection for the tidy sum of six bucks fifty.
I was wearing the Omega Railmaster. -->

Saturday 21st
                       I left the house early. It was gonna take me over an hour to get to this watchmaker's workshop. When I was about  five minutes away from his location, I reached an intersection that would only allow me to make a left-hand turn. This forced me to double-back and added a few more minutes to my trip time.
I got there shortly afterwards and parked in a side-street. His workshop was located at the quieter end of a small street filled with cafes and gift shops.
Moments later, I entered the workshop, introduced myself to the watchmaker, and gave him the run-down on my little First World saga.

We spoke about what the watch would require in order to get it looking and running as it should. I showed him the after-market crystals that I'd bought online.
"No, these are shit", was his response. He told me he uses genuine Rolex crystals.
"Ahh, good", I said.

I showed him the bezel insert that I picked up on eBay and he winced when I told him what I'd paid for it. This bezel was okay, but it was made for the later model Submariners.
He told me he'd put the correct one (for its era) on the watch. This one might just end up back on eBay at some point.
He had a closer look at the watch. I asked him if he thought it would present any problems. He said 'no'.
He then told me he'd get back to me with a quotation in about a week or so.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd tackle a little project that arrived a few days earlier. Omega watches of the late 1950s and early 1960s were available on leather straps as well as stainless steel bracelets. One classic bracelet design of theirs became known in modern times as the 'beads-of-rice' bracelet.
These bracelets were fairly readily available from Omega parts dealers on the web. I kept meaning to get myself one, but you know how it is- whenever you think something will always be around, and you can snag it anytime you want to, don't be surprised if that thing is suddenly no longer around when you're ready to buy it. I used to look at 1960s VW Beetles (the 1300 model) back in the 1980s, thinking to myself that I'd buy one someday. Nowadays, I just don't see them.
Well, Omega began gettin' all exclusive on our asses in recent years, pulling the brand from jewellery stores that had carried them for generations and setting up their own boutiques, shutting down parts accounts held by watchmakers for decades, thus making it so that you now have to go to Omega if you want your Omega watch serviced. Of course, this means that you also have to pay Omega pricing.
Those internet sellers who still had the last remaining assortment of Omega parts soon began jacking up their pricing to exorbitant levels, thus bringing out the Bogartesque cynic in me.
Whereas you could buy one of these bead-of-rice bracelets for about $150USD, nowadays they (and you, for that matter) can be had for anywhere between $400 to $700 bucks off eBay. Sure, there are a couple of sellers offering pre-owned examples for less, but they are few and far between. And the condition is difficult to gauge from photos.
So, I wanted brand new. I found a few on eBay selling for around a hundred bucks. For that price, I knew they weren't genuine Omega bracelets, but I was beyond caring by this point. They looked sharp enough for me. So I hit 'Buy It Now".

Anyway, it arrived last week and I got to work. I knew I'd have to pull a bunch of links out of it to fit my wrist. That was the easy part. I basically ended up removing every single removable link. I adjusted the spring-bar in the clasp to a tighter setting, but I didn't like how the clasp now sat against the outer edge of my wrist. This has always been the bane of my wristwatch life, and it is a problem that I'm having with the Oyster bracelet on my Submariner.
However, there was a way around this problem. Yes, it would be a little trickier, and if I messed it up, I'd be a hundred bucks in the hole. It was worth a shot, though.
I gripped one of the unremovable links between two sets of pliers and began to gently twist back and forth. I think it took about ten seconds for the link to come apart. Cool.

The next part was trickier still, because it involved some 'gentle persuasion' with the pliers on one of the clasp sections, followed by some vigorous filing down of some steel in order to fit those four protruding link sections to the clasp.
I got there in the end, but it was slightly maddening at times. I thought the whole process would take me less than half an hour.
Two hours later, I was done.

So anyway, this picture showing a page from a 1962 Omega watch catalogue shows the look I was going for. Picture is courtesy of a fantastic website called;


I don't visit this site unless I have quite a bit of time up my sleeve. (that's a shocking pun, teeritz)

I tidied up my makeshift workbench, and peeled the protective blue plastic off the clasp of the bracelet. Yep, it's not a genuine Omega bracelet, but the quality is decent, with a build quality that's pretty much the way these bracelets were made back in the day.
This is how it all turned out when all is said and done;

Yep, I was happy with it. So much so that I snapped up another one from another eBay seller later that day. For about forty bucks less.

Monday 23rd
                      Work continued getting busy. I sent out a short e-mail to all of our retail partners informing them that they all had a greater chance of seeing one of Santa's reindeer than seeing one of their repairs that arrive this week being completed before Christmas.
Sometimes, you just have to spell it out for everybody.

Man, this is a long post! Serves me right for taking three weeks since the last one. Might have to keep these shorter.

Huge wristwatch news this week as the legendary Rolex Daytona Chronograph (Reference 6239), that was a gift from Joanne Woodward to her husband Paul Newman in the late 1960s, went under the hammer on Thursday.

The watch itself developed a cult following among watch collectors and became known as the 'Paul Newman Daytona' sometime in the 1990s, as there was a vast array of photos of Newman over the years which showed this watch strapped to his wrist. Inscribed on the case-back were the words; "Drive carefully. Me", a warning/recommendation from Woodward when Newman began taking a serious interest in motor racing.

Wristwatch blogs gave this story some major coverage in the lead-up to the auction. There was speculation that this watch would go for as much as five or six million dollars. Some had said it would reach eight million.
Yes, that's some serious coin indeed.
There are numerous reasons as to why they felt it would reach such a premium.
- For one thing, the Reference 6239 was not a big seller when it was first released, with around 2,000 being produced. That's a fairly low number of examples.
- Secondly, and I would say more importantly, it was owned by Paul Newman. This particular white dial configuration, with the blocky indices on the black sub-dials, became synonymous with Newman throughout the 1970s as we saw various pictures of him out and about with wife Joanne Woodward, or climbing behind the wheel of a race car at Le Mans, for example. It became synonymous with a very respected and talented actor,  a man who stayed married to the same woman for fifty years (until his death in 2008), which is a virtual impossibility in Hollywood, and it became synonymous with a man whose philanthropic efforts through his Newman's Own brand has generated almost half a billion dollars in donations to various charities since 1983.
And also, he was just so damn cool.

Here's a link to a Hodinkee article, written after the auction. I've edited the title of the article, so as not to give away too much about the final price. I highly recommend that you watch the seven-minute long video of the auction itself first. It's interspersed with info about the watch, its provenance, and how & why it's ended up at auction; | In-Depth: The Sale of Paul Newman's Daytona

Amazing stuff. Not a watch that I'd go for, but an extraordinary result.

Anyway, this week's watches, 'cos this post has gone on long enough;

The Oris Diver Sixty-Five. I'm working on a review of this watch. Still figuring out the hook of the narrative that will be interspersed throughout the review.
The 40mm Dan Henry 1970 Compressor. This is a great watch. Lotta bang-for-buck with this one.
The Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises Heritage model.

And one that I haven't worn since last Summer, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean. This one will get a lot more wear as the warmer months roll 'round, since it's robust enough to handle a few knocks here and there.

And that's another post done and dusted, gang. My windows of free time for blog posting are smaller these days, but I'll see how I go over the next few months. Could be that I just post every two weeks or so. I'll see how I go. 
Okay, I think I'll dust off the bike and go for a ride. See if I can convince my son to come along. Mind you, he doesn't have the beginnings of a muffin-top around his waist, so there's less incentive for him to come along.
Anyway, for now, thanks for reading, all! 



  1. Interesting post and I know how you feel about the muffin top. Struggling to eradicate one myself!

    1. I tell ya, man, it came out of nowhere! Aerobic exercise, methinks, might be the only way to fight it. Run, bike, anything to help burn off the calories.
      Still, if this is middle-age spread, then at least it means I'll live to 102!

  2. I must have heard that metabolism quote from Mrs. M over a million times when I blame the dryer for shrinking my jeans.
    Nice post on the watches.

    1. Can’t argue with the ladies on this one, Bill. I’m spending a little more of my free time going for walks and bike rides, in order to try to lose the weight. Gonna take a little longer than I thought. Dammit.