Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vintage Caravelle Electric

Today was another in a long series of long days, so I'll make this brief. Today I'm wearing my vintage Caravelle electric. Caravelle was a budget Bulova brand and used the same caseback markings to indicate year, so this "N5" watch is from 1975. It's also definitely not running at the moment. It probably doesn't have a battery, and I haven't had a chance to try, but I'd wager even with a battery it won't run. These non-quartz "transistorized" electric watches seem to be victims of their own complexity and I've seen many that don't work. I believe also that many traditional watchmakers are not adept at repairing electric watches, although a few do specialize in them. It's not bad looking, kind of chunky with internal facets around the edge of the crystal to add some visual interest to the dial. Unfortunately, even in mint condition and working properly this simply wouldn't be worth much so I doubt I will go to much trouble getting this cleaned up running again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Waltham Model 1894 Pocket Watch

Today I have my other pocket watch, a Waltham Model 1894. Based on the serial number this one was made in 1932 or 1933. This was originally owned by my great-uncle and was another watch given to me by my grandfather. Unfortunately, like Friday's watch, this one has stopped working sometime in the last 15-20 years. The gold-filled case is still attractive, as is the dial (which could use a cleaning) but it will need servicing before it keeps time again. This watch has a 12s movement which is considerably smaller than Friday's 18s. It's another nice pocket watch with some family history, and it probably deserves to be made functional again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Waltham Model 1892 Pocket Watch

Today I have my Waltham Model 1892 pocket watch. This came from my grandfather who I think got it from his father, although it may have originally been owned by an uncle. I believe the original owner worked on a railroad, hence the very basic appearance of this watch. I believe the case material is called Silveroid, which is a mix "of 45% nickel, 54% copper and 1% manganese." I'm also under the assumption the dial is porcelain over metal. There's a small chip at the edge that reveals the layers, but otherwise the dial is in very good condition. The serial number dates this to 1907 or 1908, and as far as I know the leather lanyard is just as old. I actually carried this around and used it for a while when I was in high school (around 17 years ago) but I realized recently that it is no longer working. I will probably take it to my watchmaker to service soon. I've always been amazed at the decoration on the movement in this watch compared to the very plain exterior. I don't know much about pocket watches, far less than I know about wristwatches, so this site was very helpful. The movement on this is marked "Appleton, Tracy & Co." but I'm still unsure what that means, or who Appleton, Tracy & Co. were. This watch is very interesting to me as a piece of American history as well as a family heirloom.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Raketa Calendar

Today I'm wearing my only other Russian watch, a Raketa calendar watch. Raketa is the accepted western-style spelling of "Paketa" as seen on the dial. I've actually seen it on dials spelled either way, with Raketa being used for export models. I bought this in the late 80s or very early 90s at my local Macy's. I remember being drawn to its complicated dial and large size (40mm) and also that it was from the USSR (as this was made prior to its dissolution.) I believe their initial price was $100, but they apparently didn't sell very well and I got it for much less. It came in a nice bright red cardboard box with "Paketa" embossed in gold, very Soviet-looking to a westerner, but I've never seen a Raketa in similar packaging since, so I'm almost positive it was just for the export market. I wore this watch for many years in conditions that I probably should not have, like high humidity. It has no seals to speak of and while the movement still operates well, I can see some corrosion on the crowns and case, and I'm sure it's prematurely in need of a good cleaning and lubrication. I don't wear this much anymore, and I apologize for the rather unbecoming strap it's attached to right now. I haven't had a strap on it in a while and that is the least offensive 18mm strap I own right now. I believe it was on a heavy black leather strap initially, but that wore out long ago. I might try notching a 20mm or 22mm strap to fit the covered lugs as I think 18mm is too narrow for this large a watch. Here's a review or a similar model to explain how the calendar works (mine only goes up to 2000.) I think the dial on mine is much more attractive, and I think the color scheme makes it look like a medical instrument of some sort. Here are some interesting Raketa links including some older speculation about the legitimacy of recent new-looking Raketas bearing the "CCCP" markings. I actually bought a more recent Raketa a couple years back (it was one of their 24-hour models, apparently quite popular in Russia) but it didn't interest me like this one did so I sold it. I don't think I'll ever sell this one as it's a reminder of my earlier days of watch interest before I knew I'd ever become a collector.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hamilton "Men In Black II" Digital

Today I'm wearing my Hamilton Men in Black II watch. Like my recent Hamilton Chronograph this one is brand new and I'm only wearing it for the photos, although I'm not looking to sell this one anytime soon. While it was a limited edition released in 2002 along with the movie, I didn't buy mine until 2006. I bought it for a few reasons. First, as I have mentioned before, I've always been a fan of Hamilton watches. And this watch is very similar to Hamilton's second digital watch, the Pulsar P2 (the P1 was the world's first digital watch, but didn't work as well nor look as good as the P2.) Second, I'm a fan of movies, and I like both "Men in Black" movies. While I probably like the first one more than the second, I don't believe Hamilton had special watches available for the original even though the Ventura models were featured in the film. And finally, I bought this because four years after its release, those that were left languishing on dealer's shelves were being sold for a fraction of what they cost originally, so it was too good of a deal to pass up. I'm very glad I did buy one, because until I held it in my hands I didn't realize how solid it was. The case and band quality are as good as any Hamilton watch, and looking at it from the back you'd never guess that it houses only a simple digital module. This watch is certainly all about the style and reproducing the futuristic look of the vintage Pulsar. It pulls this off with ease and really shows what a timeless design this is. While I have had a couple occasions where I would have liked to wear this, I think I prefer to keep it new with the band unsized on the off chance it has some collector value someday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Vintage Elgin 21 Jewels

Today I'm wearing this vintage Elgin 21 jewel handwind watch. I couldn't find a reference for the serial number on the movement, but I would estimate this to be from the 1940s or 1950s. The movement looks good, but it's not running well right now. Also the crystal tend to pop out so I've been very careful with it. This is my first Elgin on the blog but I believe I have some more, possibly just pocket watches. Elgin was an immensely popular watch brand so their vintage watches are still very plentiful today. For some reason I can't find as much information on the Elgin 599 movement as for some others I own, but I did notice it shows up in quite a few Lord Elgin models (a more upmarket line) so it is possible it's one of Elgin's better movements. It's a little plain and has a fairly common design for the time, but the dial is actually quite nice with its fancy applied numerals, and the hands, while plain, are in good condition. A nice watch that is probably deserving of a good servicing and a nice leather strap.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mondaine Classic Swiss Railway Eco Quartz

Today I'm wearing my Mondaine Swiss Railway watch model 94122. The design is the same as the railway clocks found throughout Switzerland which were designed by Hans Hilfiker in the 1940s. The design is trademarked, and in 1986 Mondaine got (or bought, I suppose) the rights to use the design on wristwatches. It lends itself very well to a watch dial as it is extremely legible. I also find it very attractive, and it's interesting to note that while I've seen many clocks with a very similar design to this one, none but the Swiss railway clocks (or licensed versions) have this exact design. The watch is mid-sized at 33mm with a chrome-plated case made from recycled brass. The "recycle" logo is displayed on the crown. It uses a ETA quartz movement which would keep very good time if the battery wasn't dead. The strap is leather and very comfortable, with a nice design that is neither too dressy nor overly bulky. Overall a very nice watch that sees very little wrist time. Being quartz is part of the problem, the smallish size is another. Mondaine does make a newer automatic version of this watch in a 40mm size which I will have to keep an eye out for.