This week will mostly be about complications, starting with the perpetual calendar, which is represented here by a yellow gold Patek Philippe reference 3448. You will also find some chronographs with very unusual features, including a LeCoultre with a rotating slide rule bezel and an Orvis Solunagraph with a tide indicator. And we found one badly redialed Rolex on Ebay that showcases what to look for when looking at doubtful dials.
LeCoultre Reference E2647, With Calculator Rotating Scales
This LeCoultre is not the first chronograph to offer a calculating function – the Breitling Chronomat, the Juvenia Arithmo, and the Mimo Loga already displayed circular slide rules in the 1940s. The design of the LeCoultre reference E2647, with its cushion case, is visibly from a couple of decades later. It seems that originally this watch came on a Champion bracelet, which is here replaced by a white Tropic strap.
The grey dial appears to be in great condition, with very clean sub-registers. The degree of patina on the lume plots matches that on the handset, and the red second hand is absolutely correct for this reference. The 38.5mm case is described as unpolished, and the original brushing is still present. The crown is unsigned, but that’s not a red flag here as all other examples of this chronograph have this characteristic. Lastly, the manual-wound caliber Valjoux 72 is said to be working well.
This smart (in more ways than one) LeCoultre E2647 is offered for $5,500 on Chronocentric.
Patek Philippe Reference 3448, With Perpetual Calendar Complication
Patek Philippe is famous for introducing the first series-produced perpetual calendar wristwatch, back in 1941, with the reference 1526 and reference 1518, the latter also offering a chronograph complication. Fast forward 20 years to 1962, and Patek launched the reference 3448, their very first self-winding perpetual calendar. It relied on the automatic caliber 27-460, to which a perpetual calendar mechanism was fitted, becoming the caliber 27-460Q. It was eventually replaced by the reference 3450 in 1981, which added a leap year indication.
The current watch is cased in yellow gold, as are the vast majority of the 586 3448s made. Its 37mm diameter makes it wear large on the wrist, and represent a radical design change from the previous, smaller perpetual calendar watches from Patek. The case shows signs of some light previous polishing, but the hallmarks are still visible, even if a bit faint (the clarity of the hallmarks is always a good thing to check when examining precious metal cases). The dial belongs to the third series produced from 1971 to 1978 and showed perlé minute divisions, and a relatively large date ring. This time period is consistent with the Sigma symbols found at the bottom of the dial, while the extract from Patek’s archives provided with the watch, would allow us to narrow down the manufacturing date even more.
The Keystone has priced this beautiful Patek Philippe reference 3448 at $175,000.
TAG Heuer Diver Professional Reference 180.123, The ‘Nightdiver’
I have already shared my infatuation with the (TAG) Heuer Diver Professional, and especially for the luminous dial version. So you shouldn’t be surprised to see the reference 180.123 shown here, although it has a much bigger diameter, at 41.5mm. Its crown placement at 4 o’clock is like that of the 1,000m water-resistant divers from Heuer, originally in quartz. With its automatic caliber 2.89 (a rebadged ETA movement) this reference 180.123 was launched later – in the late 1980s – and therefore only comes with the TAG Heuer signature.
The watch here comes with its original Jubilee bracelet, and the clasp offers a diver’s extension. The dial still shows some luminosity, and displays a bit of aging, but nothing too severe. The automatic caliber is said to be working well, while the rotating bezel does not have any deep scratches.
The luminous TAG Heuer diver reference 180.123 is offered for 1,100 euro (or around $1,195) on Chronocentric, and the collector also considers lower offers.
Orvis Solunagraph Reference 2446SF, A Tidal Chronograph Manufactured By Heuer
Heuer had a longstanding association with tidal indications, as it started offering such a complication on some of its own chronographs in the 1950s, those being called the Mareograph ("marée" being the French word for tide). It also private labelled those watches for Abercrombie & Fitch; those models were called the "Seafarer." In the early 1970s, Heuer also manufactured these chronographs for Orvis, a retailer of fishing equipment. The original documentation shows a retail price of $195, and clearly underlines the ability of the watch to tell the best times for fishing and hunting based on the tide cycles.
The current example belongs to the first execution, as can be seen from the hour and minute bezel, and the coloration of the sub-registers. It is described as "perfect and flawless," and indeed the condition looks exemplary. The reference and serial numbers are described as perfectly legible, and the watch comes with the correct Heuer-signed crown, and an original Heuer-signed buckle. The one unknown here is the the reserve price asked by the seller; bidding on Ebay as of this writing has not reached the minimum reserve.
Bidding on this Orvis Solunagraph was at $17,800 on Ebay at time of publishing, still below its reserve price.
For comparison, here’s another Orvis Solunagraph listed by Matthew Bain. It belongs to the second execution, as evidenced by the different shades of blue in the sub-registers and the distinctive bezel. Besides those cosmetic changes, the case remains the same 40mm Autavia case found in the first execution, and it still relies on the Valjoux 72 chronograph movement.
Bidder Beware: A Redialed Rolex Perpetual Reference 1018
Identifying this redialed Rolex was definitely easy since the font is clearly wonky. Yet, they are other points that can allow us to spot a redone dial, even when it is from the hands of a more qualified "artist" than the one responsible for this one.
First, the T-Swiss Made-T at the bottom of the dial has no place in a Rolex from the 1960s since this was used by Rolex only from from the 1980s (and again using a different font).
The indexes are another great telltale, since they should have lume plots; the originals were probably shaved off when the dial was repainted. Indeed, in most instances the presence of lume on the hands should equate to some lume application on the indexes, and this general rule extends much beyond the world of vintage Rolex. Of course, exceptions exist, but they are rare. The lume on the hands is also too fresh, so those were either relumed or replaced.
Lastly, and this is a bit less scientific, but the overall finish of the dial looks too new; the black color is very shiny, and the minute track is too white for a 50-year-old watch. It is more an impression than anything else, but associated with the other facts, there is really no doubt that the original dial of this reference 1018 is long gone. Yet, this badly redialed Rolex 1018 was sold on Ebay on the very same day that it was listed for $1,500.