Before we start, please let us know a bit about who you are in real life and virtual.
Name: Georg S. (52), PR freelancer (technology, energy and IT), living in Berlin, Germany. Still happy married, even if my wife gets mad about my watch addiction from time to time. Proud father of a just adult daughter, I like arts, travelling and golf.
On Forums: valjoux72 on IG: #watchgeorge.
1. When and how did your journey into watches has started and what does you fascinate most about vintage watches? Show us your first vintage watch!
I´m a late starter into vintage watches. Someone broke into our holiday home in Sardinia during a vacation back in 2013. My only wristwatch at that that time, a Davosa Ternos Sub-clone, was stolen. So I found a Heuer Quartz chronograph on ebay as replacement, which I still have. I realized pretty quick how many great looking vintage watches there are out in the wild. As I have studied art history at university too, the design and aesthetic of vintage watches fascinated me from the beginning.
But in the same way I really admire the technology and precision of these little time machines, some of them nearly 100 years old and still working very accurate. In our fast times with more and more products with planned short limited lifetimes I support that kind of quality and thinking. And to track down rare and valuable watches still is very exciting.
2. Does your collection have a theme? If not which are the top two brands and what makes them so special for you? Is there a brand you have an aversion to?
At the beginning I wanted to collect an example of every Valjoux movement, but I terribly failed. Later I started my “watch history collection from 1920 – 1970”, for which I am still looking to find rare and unusual watches. Some are early automatic watches, some chronographes, quite a few time only watches, different in case and size. Looking for “iconic” models of a brand or a period of time and watches with extravagant case design.
My favorite brands are Longines and Universal Geneve at the moment. I particularly like the high-quality movements and cases from Longines.
Universal Geneve design wise produced some milestones in watch history. The Tri-Compax models from the 1940 – 1960 are just awesome as the Polerouters from the 1950 – 1970´s. My small UG collection is well stocked with three Pole(a)router bumpers, as I’m always looking for the very early and rare models.
A greedy former boss of mine, who was a pilot himself, unfortunately took me the interest in Breitling watches. But since I had the opportunity to hold an early Breitling Duograph Rattrapante chronograph in hand, my aversion has started to subside.
3. The big auction houses annoying us by calling every third watch they offer “historic important”. Are you as lucky to have a really special watch (brands history, technology, provenance…) or super rare watch in your collection?
Sometimes you have to go „all in“ and take a risk to find special watches. To be honest, when I found this early Zenith Compur, I wasn´t aware of its importance for the brand history. Loved the dial, the stepped case and the olive pushers and was willing to send serious money to an unknown private bank account somewhere in Italy. With the help from Italian collectors I found out later that it is one of a very few known early 1. Generation Zenith Compur with an additional chrono function. These were produced for a very short period of time from 1934 – 35. It is the very first “modern” Zenith chronograph with two pushers. It is driven by a modified Valjoux 22gh movement, before Zenith started using Martel movements. Even the experts on Omegaforums didn´t know anything about these early Zenith Compur back than.
4. What is the most often dibsed watch in your collection?
Hard to say as I have had luck to find a few watches you don´t see that often. Maybe at the time it is the Longines “disco volante” I got in my hands last year. Even John Goldberger didn´t know Longines made these lugless watches already back in the 1930 – 40´s. The case design is quite unique and the broad bezel gives the watch a very special look. Other collectors have realized that as well and dibs it regularly.
5. Some experts say ninety percent of the value of a vintage watch is in the dial. So what watch of your collection has the most beautiful dial design?
The symmetry of sector dials has a big attractiveness for me. Unfortunately the early sector dial watches made by Omega, Vacheron and Longines are going for big money since a while. But I´m glad to have this amazing looking Alpina. The partition of the dial is fantastic and makes the watch look beautifully balanced. Paired with the blued hands the bitonal dial is near to perfect from my point of view.
6. So what is the nicest/most interesting movement in your collection?
I admire vintage movements for their beauty since the beginning. But to be honest, first a visit to Lange & Söhne factory in Glashütte last year made me really understand the perfection of these little times machines and the skilled craftsmanship needed to build these movements back in the early days. It is one of the mysteries of vintage watch collecting that you still can find vintage watches with highly finished movements for ridiculous small money.
The movement I admire a mid 1950´s Record Geneve inhouse cal. 174, that’s fantastic looking and technically very interesting. Oh, and the dial on this watch isn´t that shabby either.
7. Already strayed on the web today to make your next big catch? Tell us more about your best find via Internet or in real life!
Well I made a few good purchases just wandering around on the web. For sure one of the best but for sure my most exciting catch was the double signed Universal Geneve Polarouter “Joyeros Chantilli”. I found it on Ebay some years ago, auction ending one day before Christmas. Wrong description, bad pics, a first time seller from Eastern Europe with no PayPal. So not the best way of confidence building I guess. I took the risk, won it for decent money, but it didn´t arrive afterwards. Really felt bad as I thought I was scammed and missed my once in the lifetime opportunity on one of my grail watches. Five months later a handwritten letter from the seller arrived at my home address, in which he told me that the sending was returned and he stayed in hospital afterwards for a longer period of time. He was banned from Ebay and wanted to sell other stuff there. So I helped him to return, sent him some extra money for second shipping, and this time the watch arrived safely (with a half year delay).
8. How many watches do you have in your collection at the time and are there any rules for “adding” or “let go” a watch? Do you wear all your watches regularly?
More than 50, less than 80 including the shoe box under the bed with the early stuff I want to sell since years. Good collection size for me. If I look for a bigger acquisition I have the “1 in 1 out” rule, that is working quite well (most of the time). Around 30 watches are in regular use, the rest just from time to time.
9. If you could keep only one watch of your collection. Which one would be your first choice?
Tough question, as it would hit me hard to have just one left. So maybe the smartest choice is my Longines 12.68z stop seconde, as it combines both. On the first glance a time only watch, in real it is a full working chronograph with central second and minutes stop hands that has it all: a fantastic dial, a high quality case and a highly finished movement.
10. Last question: What treasure are you hunting at the time or what watch dream you hope to become true?
Just hunting the unknown at the time, as there are still so many discoveries that can be made. Smaller watches with extravagant cases are on my short list at the moment.
And my dreams? Well just dreaming to find that dusty Longines 13zn chronograph in a small antique shop on an at least six week summer holiday trip to Italy or France.
2 questions for free
a. Taking good looking pictures of watches is part of the game and quite difficult. Show us your best watch photo so far. Any tips for taking good photos?
Not much to show here, as my skills are limited. I´m still looking for the right camera, so I´m just use my Samsung S7 for pics. Outdoor light on cloudy days works fine, like the window and balcony on the east side of our living room. I like to take group shots combining watches from different brands. It is nice to see differences or similarities side by side.
b. Patina or NOS condition, what do you prefer?
Well I really admire these untouched looking watches that are coming to auction at the big auction houses in next to NOS condition. I´m always a bit suspicious about them, as there is so much money into vintage watches and a lot of restaurations is made on cases and dials. To be honest, I love watches that have some scuffs and a story to tell. Missing some lume, so what? Even a non original crown or some corrosion on the hands / case of an 80 year old hand wounded watch are no deal breaker for me. Vintage watches were made to be used. Some watches that are looking odd under a loupe can be great looking on the wrist. Macro shots quite often make the injuries look bigger than they are in real life…