Fellows’ move towards a monthly watch auction last year was always going to be something of a gamble. Whilst the market for pre-owned watches was surging ever forwards with sky-high demand, the task of populating a monthly sale with interesting pieces was certain to be challenging.
But if previous months’ auction totals and the pieces on show for next week’s August sale (Tuesday 23rd August) are anything to go by, Fellows appears to be more than up to the task.
Of course there are headline pieces, such as the mint-green chrysoprase-dialled Rolex Daytona Beach edition which adorns the catalogue cover. But scratch a little deeper and the August sale has plenty going for it.
QP Magazine editor James Buttery and editor-in-chief James Gurney stopped off at the sales’ London viewing with a few targets in mind; some on-trend, some decidedly off-beat.
Heuer Carrera chronograph Ref 1153
Interest in pre-TAG Heuer watches has never been stronger. As the price paid for vintage Patek and Rolex lots pushes them beyond the reach of mere mortals, a gap emerged for a hot new target that was genuinely attainable. Heuer’s inherent credibility and faultless late-60s, early 70s design work made the brand the obvious choice and prices are rising fast. This automatic Calibre 11 chronograph illustrates all that is good about Heuer’s eye-catching design work and sits beautifully on wrist. Almost certain to go beyond its estimate, this Ref. 1153 is in great condition on the surface, with a few minor, honest nicks and dings and is even supplied with a Heuer pin buckle.
Heuer Pasadena Chronograph
This is Heuer inhabiting an entirely different era. The early 80s design cues of this Valjoux 7750-based chronograph are there for all the world to see. This ‘Non-Pasadena’ – for the name is absent from the dial – is a later, brushed and polished stainless steel variant of a model more commonly PVD-coated black. The Pasadena might not possess the Carrera’s swagger but it offers a lot of vintage watch for the money given the condition and proper bracelet. If nothing else its 43mm diameter will suit modern tastes.
A. Lange & Sohne factory diamond-set Saxonia
Clearly, present day A. Lange & Sohne is a very different beast to the company that signed off on this Saxonia with its diamond-set dial and bezel. We’re more accustomed to the Teutonic restraint currently displayed by the Glashutte master of high watchmaking; contemporary Lange does its boasting through its sapphire casebacks. But this Saxonia, with its manufacture-added diamond and sapphire bling is enough to leave one slightly giddy; actually wearing such a watch would require a certain level of audacity. Strip away all of the stones though and you’re left with a manually wound grand date with all of the finest horological trapping Glashutte has to offer.
This neat little nickel-plated chronograph from Fortis, made somewhere around the midpoint of the 20th century, could be viewed in one of two ways. Let’s get the negatives out of the way and concentrate on the positives. Someone, for reasons known only to themselves, has heavily scratched the logo on the dial. We’re baffled as to how this might have occurred, but we’d like to have sharp words with the person responsible. For many this will be a deal-breaker but there’s plenty else to recommend this watch, not least of all that comforting red and blue colour scheme used for the tachymeter and chronograph seconds hand. There’s also a wonderfully eccentric ringed hour hand.
This manually wound steel Jaeger-LeCoultre three-hander has a lot going for it. It wears far bigger than its 33mm diameter might suggest and boasts all the trappings of early 1940s watch design, with its Arabic numerals still erring on the side of Art Deco (the dumpy 4 is a dead giveaway) and open-worked, lume-filled sword hands. Apart from a handful of completely tolerable blemishes, the watch’s cream dial is remarkably clean, although the crystal will have to come off at some point to address the chunk of luminous material that has come away from the hands.
Omega small seconds
This low-key, hand-wound Omega could turn out to be a real bargain. Not only is the case stamped as 18ct gold, with small seconds sitting at the six o’clock it also oozes under-the-radar charm, mixing Arabic numerals at the 9/12/3 locations with appliqué spear-point batons elsewhere. These are thankfully all still in place. At 36mm the watch is also is completely wearable even by today’s heftier standards. There is quite a bit of foxing on the dial but nothing to trouble the watch as a whole. It is, however, worth noting that the case appears to have been heavily polished fairly recently.
The seasoned eyes of QP editor-in-chief James Gurney spotted the hidden charms of this limited edition Roger Dubuis Golden Square. Numbered 28 of 28, this watch pairs a square 18ct gold case with guilloched mother of pearl dial, Roman numerals, cathedral hands and the original perforated brown alligator strap. It shouldn’t work and perhaps doesn’t when photographed, but on the wrist it comes together with all of its disparate elements forming a cohesive whole. Roger Dubuis makes larger-than-life watches that are, in all likelihood, unlikely to find a consistent level of appeal through the years. This example has come full circle and is ready to be rediscovered.
Zenith El Primero Chronograph
Some watch purchases are born out of passion while others can be distilled down into cold, hard logical choices. This Zenith is one of the latter. It might not get your blood pumping, but its compact stainless steel case contains the most famous chronograph movement in the world, the legendary El Primero. It is also in a worn, but very tidy, condition and is ready to wear on a very fitting brown leather driving strap. Zenith is all about its gentleman racers at the moment, so this watch couldn’t be more on message.
We had to research Thermidor watches to convince ourselves that this singular watch wasn’t an expensive exercise in pun delivery. The brand still exists in name-only, selling quartz fashion watches in Madrid but with nothing like this off-kilter automatic chronograph left in its catalogue. As the brand name suggests, the basis for this watch is a seriously on-trend 1970s-style lobster claw case in stainless steel but we can’t determine any good reason for the irregular 2.30/6/11 placement of its sub registers. A series of bright orange highlights completes this compelling curio. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Heuer Carrera at the top of this list, and don’t care too much about brand values, it’s a bit of fun.