Tag Archives: watch collecting

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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Filed under History, hobbies, watches

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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Filed under watches