Category Archives: watches

What’s a Philippe Beguin?

If there is one thing about collecting watches that makes it fun, it’s the story behind each piece. And oh boy, have I got a story for you!

Last year, while scrolling through watches on eBay, I came across several watches for sale in a lot. In that lot of 8 watches I saw a couple that seemed nice enough, but one was worth the price of all of them, a Casio MD-1010 “Submariner.” So, for 62 dollars I bought 8 watches.

Upon receiving my little box full of goodies, I went straight for the Casio, only to find that it needed more than a battery to work; it needed a new movement. However, I was fortunate to purchase a NOS movement just like the one that had died and before long it was running like new.

There were a couple of other neat watches in the group, including a rare Invicta tank. But what I did not expect to find was a watch connected to one of the most famous watch transactions in history.

A Peace Talk Purchase

In 1954, peace talks were being held in Geneva at the Hotel des Bergues (now the Four Seasons). Attending those peace talks was the last Emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai. As history would show, the peace talks were not that successful, and neither was Emperor Bao Dai who was later exiled in 1955. But if there was one thing that could be said about him, Bao Dai had expensive tastes.

Frustrated with how the talks were going, Bao Dai stepped outside to get some fresh air. On a whim, he left the Hotel des Bergues and walked across the street to the respected watch retailer, Philippe Beguin, and asked for the most expensive Rolex he had.

“Bao Dai” Rolex ref. 6062

Not having anything extravagant enough, the jeweler contacted Rolex and begged for something fancier … and that’s what he got. The watch that Rolex sent over was the one-of-a-kind Rolex ref. 6062 in 18k gold with a diamond-set dial. It is said at that time the watch cost SFr4000, almost the same as a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar.

That Rolex the last Emperor of Vietnam bought became a daily wearer. But later, after his death, in 2002 the “Bao Dai” Rolex ref. 6062 sold at auction for $235,000, making it the most expensive Rolex sold up to that point. But is was in 2017 that the same watch sold by Philippe Beguin to Bao Dai went for a staggering $5,060,427. Yes, 5 million.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information about Philippe Beguin. However, one interesting thing to note was that his relationship with Rolex was such that each model sold through his store had his name printed by Rolex on the dial! I’d say you would have had to have earned a little respect for that to happen. But as history would have it – and I’ve not been able to find out why – Philippe Beguin went out of business not long after the sale to Emperor Bao Dai.

An eBay Purchase

What does all this have to do with anything? It’s because one of the watches I got in that lot of 8 was a Philippe Beguin. Inside is a gold-plated Peseux 320 movement with a 40-hour power reserve that’s only 3 millimeters thick!

So, for an initial investment of around $7.75, then servicing by James P. Soboleski in California, I have a watch made in the late 1940s to early 1950s which was sold in the shop by the very same man who sold one of the most famous watches in horological history!

Not bad for an eBay find, huh?

(How much would you say it’s worth?)

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Wednesday Watch Day! The Next Best Thing

A Guy’s Gotta Dream

Welcome to another episode of Wednesday Watch Day. I hope you are enjoying these weekly trips into my personal horological world. However, my best assumption is that you’ve almost got to be a watch nerd to read past this sentence 😉

Anyway, are there things in your life that you wish you could have, but reality has whispered in your ear, “Get real”? I’m that way with a particular brand of watch – Tudor.

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Tudor Heritage Black Bay 41 (Retail: $3,050)

And when it comes to Tudor watches, there are three that I sometimes daydream about. One of those is the Heritage Black Bay 41 with a black dial (I’ll tell you about the other two, later).

Now, I don’t want to go on and on about the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 41, but some details may help lend perspective. This particular watch is 41mm in diameter, made of stainless steel, and has a scratchproof sapphire crystal. It also has a screw down crown at the 3 o’clock position, a screw down solid case back, and has a water resistant rating of 150 meters (500ft.).

Inside the Tudor is the caliber 2824 movement (based on the Swiss-made ETA 2824) which has 25 jewels and bits at 28,800 vph (vibrations per hour). Besides being very accurate for a mechanical watch, this smooth movement give Tudor an approximate 38-hour power reserve.

Reality Ain’t So Bad!

Here’s the reality: unless I become a famous painter, author, or pastor of a church with a big, golden globe rotating behind me when I preach, I’ll be saving a long, long time for a Tudor.

However, just because I can’t afford a Black Bay 41, that doesn’t meant I can’t have the next best thing, a Seiko SRPE55!

Seiko SRPE55 ($200 – $300)

Honestly, I love my Seiko and wear it more than any other watch in my collection. To be specific (because I have an app on my phone that track all this stuff), my SRPE55 has a wear rate of 12.5%, compared to the next-most-worn watch at only at 7.5%!

And why shouldn’t I love it? I mean, look, if you didn’t know anything about watches, a quick glance at both would make one question the huge price difference. They look very similar and the Seiko even has a day/date complication and a longer (41 hour) power reserve!

My watch on a page from a Tudor catalogue. Left-Right: Tudor Heritage Black Bay 41; Seiko SRPE55; Tudor Heritage Black Bay 36 (all to scale)

Look, there are real, honest-to-goodness reasons why Tudors cost 10 times the amount of a Seiko (although you can pay over $5 grand for some Seiko’s). The 4R36 movement in the SRPE55 has 24 jewels and operates at 21,600 beats an hour, but it’s not as smooth at the Tudor. Neither is the water resistance rating of 100 meters as good, partly due to the push/pull crown.

But that’s not all the differences; the Seiko only has a “Hardlex” crystal, not sapphire, which is more prone to scratches. But the real differences go much deeper than a casual glance can see, and these differences are what demands a much higher premium for one and not the other.

However, the Seiko DOES have a pretty open case back 🙂

True Beauty

You know the old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

There’s another saying you may know. It goes like this: “True beauty is more than skin deep.”

But if true beauty is more than skin deep, and if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, who can actually see the true beauty?

I know Who! He’s even the One who invented time!

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7 CSB, God speaking to Samuel regarding Eliab, one of David’s brothers

Samuel listened to God and didn’t choose the “next best” option. Looks weren’t everything.

But I think the Lord would still prefer me stick with what I’ve got 😉

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A True Classic – the Red Bezel Swiss Army

Welcome back to Wednesday Watch Day! Today I am going to share with you a true classic, but one that is more sentimental to me than practical. It’s my 1992-ish Swiss-Made Swiss Army field watch.

Say that three times fast! LOL

Second, But Better

Last week I told you about the watch I’ve had the longest, the Vostok Komanderskie (actually, this month makes 30 years!). But this week I am going to tell you about the second watch my wife ever purchased for me.

Back in 1992, not long after my wife and I were just dating, she wanted to buy me a new watch. Now, my memory isn’t the best, but I think she wanted to buy me a watch because she like me, or something like that.

Back in those days, back in Chattanooga, TN, there was a very respectable jewelry store called Rone Regency Jewelers. It was a locally-owned establishment with a stellar reputation for selling fine jewelry and watches, such as Rolex and Patek Phillipe. This is where my wife (girlfriend at the time) took me to shop.

Long story short, I found a watch that I considered to be a work of art and absolutely gorgeous, and it didn’t cost as much as a Rolex (which was only about $2,500 at that time). No, it was a beautiful Seiko Chronograph. It must have been a rare piece, because I’ve never since been able to find an example of it.

But the Seiko kept breaking! Literally, the second hand kept coming off inside the case! At one point they even accused me of doing something to it! That didn’t make me happy, of course. I didn’t have the foggiest idea how to take a watch apart.

So, eventually, the remedy was to exchange the Seiko Chronograph for something else. What did I pick? The relatively new Swiss Army field watch with the white face and red bezel, and it was really a stunner.

We took it home for only – only – $110. That would be about the equivalent of $200, today. We saved money over the Seiko, that’s for sure.

Nearly 30 years later and it’s NEVER broken!

A Duh Moment

Now, I just said that this watch never broke on me. That’s not 100% correct. To begin with, the strap finally fell apart and I had to replace it. That’s not a big deal. But the real problem was that the hard resin case might have been tough, but years of wear caused a spring pin to wear out one of the retaining holes. Therefore, the watch band would keep coming off.

So, what did I do? I took it back to the store where I originally purchased it (except at there fancy new location). Could they fix it? No. All they could do was tell me they could send it back to the manufacturer and receive a NOS case . . . for $250!!

Nope. Not gonna.

I was pretty sad at that point. What was I to do? That’s when my wife suggested something that made me feel like an idiot. She asked, “Why not use a bigger pin for the strap?”

Duh! It worked. Go figure.

Not My Type?

Fast forward to today. My wife and I will have been married 27 years, and she’s still, if not more, my type. But not the Swiss Army watch.

The problem with the watch is the size. These days I prefer a casual watch to be in the 40mm range (the width of the case). The Swiss Army is smaller than that at only 38.5mm. It really looks small on my 7.5 inch wrist.

Or does it?

Just yesterday a brand new strap I ordered, one like the original, came in the mail. Just for this post I decided to put it on and see how it felt. Lo and behold, it’s not as small as I remember! Maybe it had something to do with the small NATO strap I had on it?

It actually looks pretty good! Maybe it’s time to show it some long-overdue love.

I mean, really, it was love that bought it, right? 🙂

John 3:16

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The Humble Grail

Within the wristwatch-wearing community – those who wear timepieces, not computers – there is a term which describes the watch (or watches) you someday hope to own. These watches, often expensive and/or rare, are called “grails.”

A few watches immediately come to mind when we think of “grails.”

Grand Seiko Snowflake Dial
  • Rolex Submariner ($15,000 avg.)
  • Omega Speedmaster ($5,000 avg.)
  • The Grand Seiko “Snowflake” ($6k-$7k avg.)
  • Rolex Datejust ($6k – $15k and more…a lot more)
  • Tudor Black Bay 58 ($4,000 avg.)

Grail watches, depending on a person’s dreams and aspirations, vary greatly. However, what is typically the same is that they are difficult to obtain and often prohibitively expensive. And we’re not even talking about upper-end luxury watches that can cost over $100,000.

But not all grails are expensive. Some are simply rare. For example, those who collect Timex watches have different models they would love to obtain. My first Timex grail was a 1967 Marlin “dot-dash.” I picked one up for $67 off eBay, but only after I lost a bid on another a few weeks before. Other collectors dream of that perfect vintage Timex dive watch.

Just recently I was thrilled to obtain a grail. For months I had been going to farmer’s markets and posting paintings online, all to generate enough money to buy a Seiko SRPE 55. When the last painting sold brought in what I needed, online shopping I a-went! Like a Knight of the Round Table with a key to the gate, I charged the virtual castle and captured the Japanese-made legend.

But let me point out a few things before you think I spent ten thousand dollars on something. First, the watch I bought, the Seiko SRPE 55, cost me less than $200. It could have cost me $275+, but I shopped around and got the best deal. Also, every dime I spent on the purchase of this watch was earned from selling my paintings, prints, and an old Timex or two.

One reason I wanted this watch was because how similar it was to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 41 and 36, watches costing around $3,000. The Tudor could be considered a true grail watch for me, but I can’t justify spending that much. Therefore, when I saw the striking similarity between the Seiko and the Tudor, my decision was made. And, I didn’t have to save for 10 years to make the purchase!

My Seiko between the Tudor Black Bay 41 and 36

Are there any other grails I want to buy one day? Honestly, not at this time (no pun intended, but it works).

Right now, my main goal is to finish my doctoral assignments, prepare sermons, visit people, and be a husband, dad, grandfather, and son. As I find old Timex pieces to add to my collection, I will take them home, clean them up, and work on my watch servicing skills. But what I am not going to do is dream about a watch that could pay for a trip to the Holy Land!

That brings me to my final though about grails: Do people ever think about the futility of what they are seeking?

From where to the term “grail” originate? Well, it comes from the word used to describe the cup from which Jesus shared the wine with His disciples at the Last Supper. That cup is often referred to as the “Holy Grail.”

You’ve probably seen other things besides watches referred to as the “holy grail” of one thing or another. It’s a term meant to describe something as the ultimate, most-elusive prize to be had. This stems all the way back to when legends described the cup Jesus used as one made of gold, encrusted with precious stones, and even capable of mystical powers.

But what was the “holy grail”? Would it not have been a simple cup made of wood, stone, or clay? Most certainly it was simple, lacked ornamentation, and had no other significance other than that it was handled by the Word made flesh, the Creator of time.

What made the grail “holy” was that was set apart unto a holy work. Other than that, it was humble. A humble grail.

So, that brings me back full circle to watches. Why do we have “grail” watches? In reality, just like the elusive Holy Grail of old, how many fortunes are lost in pursuit of something glittery, shiny, hand (of man) crafted, with no inherent power other than the ability to do what it was designed to do?

It seems very ironic to me that we want those glittery cups and not the humble one. We lust after the opulence of the Tudors and scoff at the utilitarian simplicity and dependability of the lowly Timex.

Even more ironic is that the very “grail” for which the Indian Jones’ of the world search is the very same cup (metaphorically speaking) that Jesus asked, “If it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me.” He knew what it was going to cost Him, but He wasn’t purchasing it for Himself; it was meant to be a gift for those who could NEVER afford to purchase it.

Therefore, what makes the grail precious? It’s monetary value? The gold and jewels? The intricate, fine-crafted details? Or could you be satisfied with something simple?

To be honest, the most precious watches in my collection, those for which no price could buy them away from me, are those which my wife and daughters gave me as gifts. They are irreplaceable, even if they only cost $20.

I’m wearing a $30 Timex MK1 Steel on a canvas strap now, and I really like this watch! But I’m going to swap it out for my new Seiko before I leave the house.

I wonder what Jesus would wear.


Your thoughts and comments mean a lot to me, so let me know what you think 😊

Have a blessed day and start to your week.

Anthony

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Blatant Suggestions for Your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

James 4:2 (KJV)

I’m Just Asking

Maybe you’ve done all your shopping. Maybe you only plan to purchase a few small gifts for your dearest loved ones. Maybe it’s just you and your significant other – no kids, no relatives, nobody you like at work – and you’re only getting a single gift for each other.

Whatever your situation may be, unless you are out of work and broke, I am going to ask you to consider how you can gift me with some items I would like to have.

In the above verse, James said, “You have not, because you ask not.” Evidently, people will literally start wars and kill people over “stuff” they want. I don’t want that! I want peace! That’s why I’m asking 🙂

Let’s avoid that whole global conflict nonsense, shall we?

My List

So, if you have been looking for somebody to buy for, or if you have extra money in your investment accounts that you need to burn, please allow me to share with you some options. The following are items I would like for YOU to purchase and give to ME.

Ready?

As you can see, the Tudor looks pretty good on my wrist. It could even help me tell the time!
  1. A Watch. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, nor does it have to be a specific style; I just like watches. But if you want me to ask for specifics, sure, I can do that!
    • Rolex Explorer (or pretty much any other model)
    • Tudor Black Bay 58 with the metal bracelet. But of course, I’d take pretty much any Tudor watch, within reason.
  2. Tubes of high-quality watercolor and/or gouache paint. Have you seen the price of good paint??
  3. A Truck. Believe me, where I live and work …. I could really use a truck.

There ya’ go! Now you have your choice of several things you could give me because I asked. I feel better, don’t you?

Just give me a call if you have any questions about color, size, make, model, or brand. It could be like I ask, then you ask, then we both get stuff!

Cool, isn’t it?

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts.

James 4:3 (KJV)

Dadgum it!

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Name That Watch #2

Last week I introduced you the first watch in my amateur collection and asked for name suggestions.

You rolled your eyes and refrained from participating.

But I’ve started something, so I must continue,

This week’s piece is a strange and quirky one from the ‘70s, a Swiss-made Lucerne jump hour that belonged to my grandfather.

It is a mechanical, hand-wind watch which I currently have attached to a black rubber strap off of an Orient Kamasu divers watch.

What would you name it?

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Name That Watch!

“I’m Not THAT Obsessive!”

Maybe about a week ago Timothy Daugherty, a friend, asked me on Facebook, “Do you name your watches?” My reply was, “No. I’m not THAT obsessive.”

He asked the question because I had recently posted some “glamor photos” of several of my watches. I was bored, and it was just something different and fun to do instead of going to sleep. I should have gone to sleep – I don’t get enough as it is.

But it did get me to thinking about what I would name my watches if I actually named my watches. Believe it or not, I found it easier to name our children.

BTW, I have a thing for watches.

A New Series!

So, last night, while I was once again fighting sleep, an idea flashed in my brain. Why not do a weekly blog post where readers on my blog and on Facebook decide what to name each of my watches?

It’s either a great idea, or it’s not. Either way, I’m going forward with it.

Name That Watch!

This is how it’s going to work… Each week I’m going to post a picture of one of my watches, along with each piece’s back story. Then, in the comment sections of both here and on Facebook, you can leave your suggestions.

For the next few days after each post, I will collect your suggestions and then compile the top 5 that I like. Then, probably on Facebook, I will create a survey/poll where you can vote on which one you like the most. The name with the most votes will win.

The person who first suggests the winning name will receive a prize! A prize? YES, a prize!

The winning name suggester will receive an autographed picture of the watch being named – if you want it, of course 😉

So, let’s get to it . . . time’s a ticking!

Watch #1: The Swiss Army Field Watch

This watch was purchased back in the mid-’90s from Rone Regency Jewelers in Chattanooga, TN. The way it came about is that my wife had bought me a beautiful, expensive, very complicated Seiko chronograph for a gift. Oh, it was a beautiful watch, but for some reason, the second hand kept messing up. At one point it fell off! After getting it fixed more than once, I was not the only one frustrated.

Instead of keeping the original watch, and instead of dealing with the mounting suspicions that I was doing something to the Seiko to make it break, the manager suggested I exchange the Seiko for another watch. He suggested something a little tougher (and not as expensive), then guided me to the watch you see here.

Watchu see is a classic Swiss-made Swiss Army watch sporting an aftermarket red-striped NATO strap. This watch is powered by a quartz movement (uses a battery) with a date complication. It also hacks (which means you can stop the second hand to set a more precise time).

The 38mm case is made of resin and has a stainless steel screw-down case back. The crystal seems to be mineral.

Unquestionably, the most outstanding aspect of this watch is the red-enameled stainless steel bezel.

So, can you think of a name?

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