Here in Lengbeau we believe the success of us as an online blog/journal relies heavily upon how well we could serve our audience - you watch lovers. Yes, we do talk about exciting new releases, expensive limited edition watches, so on so forth, but at the same time we fully acknowledge that most of the ordinary people do not have the financial muscles (yet!) to acquire a platinum Lange 1 or a Patek Philippe split-second chronograph without breaking a sweat. As much as we want to pioneer appreciation for quality - sometimes incredibly complex - mechanical watches, to avoid Lengbeau becoming yet another watch site that does little more than sharing news of dreamy timepieces, we've decided to provide actionable advice on watches that are special, of strong characters, interesting and relative accessible to the general public from a price point perspective. Take this as a weekend casual read over your 1pm brunch, with the best picks spoon-fed to you (puns totally intended).
Every week we would try to handpick 5 watches (mostly pre-owned/vintage watches in decent conditions) we believe are worth looking into, coupled with clear seller and pricing information. These 5 choices will fall squarely into 5 different price ranges:
1. <5,000 HKD;
2. 5,000 - 50,000 HKD;
3. 50,000 - 100,000 HKD;
4. 100,000 - 150,000 HKD;
5. 150,000 - 200,000 HKD
With watches from a diverse range of price points on offer, I'm sure there's one (or five!) that deserves your consideration. Without further ado, let's being our first ever Weekend Brunch Report!
<5,000 HKD: A Vintage Seiko 5 Automatic with Funky Dial
Introduced in 1963, Seiko 5 was a mega collection that includes solidly built automatic watches from the widest spectrum one could expect from the same umbrella of products. The "5" represents 5 essential attributes. To understand more, click here.
The watch shown here is a prime example of a dressy Seiko 5 with a classic case size of 35mm, which could be a little small by today's standard but I'd argue that it is still very wearable. Plus it has the funkiest dial arrangement I've seen in any watches in a long time. Plus golden applied hour markers (although according to the seller the dial was replaced some time in the past). Oh and did I mentioned it's being offered for around HKD500 only? Yes it is. 500 bucks for a robust automatic Seiko dress watch might just be the most unbelievable thing ever.
To view its eBay post, click here.
5,000 - 50,000 HKD: A circa.1972 Tudor Submariner "Snowflake"
This pick is risky for a number of reasons. First, Tudor has long been seen as a "sister line" to Rolex and honestly, that's what it is. But we'd be making a huge mistake writing its products off as it does provide us a more economical alternative to experience the Rolex quality without breaking a bank. Second, it's a Tudor Submariner. We've talked about the Rolex Sub in length here, but what we didn't mention is, Tudor also had its own Sub models with very similar conception and aesthetics as that of the Rolex Sub. The only major difference between the two is that the Tudor variation uses modified ETA movement (a robust, but less sophisticated movement for mass-production) instead of Rolex in-house movement. Thirdly, the dial looks kind of dirty and roughed up, but hey, those graceful signs of aging are exactly what we look for in a quality vintage number that makes it feel ever so special.
Recommending here is Tudor's "snowflake" interpretation of the Submariner with the end of its hour hand resembling the shape of a piece of snowflake. The dial is in fair condition with common bubbling and degradation over time that produces the lovely blueish hue. Notice that the hours markers and hands have faded to what we call a "gilt", or yellow-y state, which is another desirable factor. The square hour markers are yet another feature to separate the Tudor Sub and the Rolex Sub, and I'm enjoying the utilitarian feel it exudes.
It's currently being offered by Lunar Oyster here with an ask price of around HKD32,500.
50,000 - 100,000 HKD: An Amazing Early Heuer Monaco
Again, to quickly sum up what Heuer (now called "Tag Heuer") was as a brand, let's just begin by saying Heuer has long been in association the sport of motor racing by being the first few manufacturers to introduce dashboard stopwatches and being the first in creating a wrist-worn chronograph in 1914.
Quickly fast forward to 1969 when Heuer introduced the world the first ever automatic chronograph called Caliber 11, beating Zenith's legendary El Primero and Seiko's similar caliber by several months. Along with this new announcement, a never seen before reference in squared shape was released housing the Caliber 11. Its name is Heuer Monaco, named after the historic race circuit.
Being offered here is a superb example of the early Heuer Monaco ref. 1133G. The original grey dial is mesmerizing and the red hands added a bit of a punch to the watch's over profile. The crown being situated at the left hand side is also an uncommon treatment which is very Heuer. With a 37mm case size plus a rather thick body (due to modular chronograph construction), this bad guy will provide you with excellent wrist presence.
You can acquire this amazing Heuer here for around HKD80,000.
100,000 - 150,000 HKD: A Very Friendly-Priced F.P. Journe in Platinum (and oh that movement...)
And then there's the third category which is becoming increasing popular amongst collectors: the independent watchmakers who produce excellent timepieces in very small amount, serving a niche client segment. Our 100,000 - 150,000 HKD pick this week is from arguably the hottest independent watch maker these days: F.P. Journe, the genius watchmaker (as in an individual) from France.
To put things into perspective, Journe has won 3 Golden Hand Award at Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (pretty much the Oscar of the watch world) in the past decade or so. His complications range from Sonnerie Souveraine that tells time at regular interval, to crazily beautiful tourbillon like this. Needless to say, they are expensive as f%$k, with legitimate reasons of course.
But this is not to say there's no good F.P. Journe deal out there. There is. In fact we've found this entry level F.P. Journe in platinum with a killer double-barrel manual movement that comes with a relatively friendly price tag. It even comes with a handsome power reserve indicator on the right hand side. Flipping the watch over you'd see the movement structured in a way so that the balance wheel appears to be moving in complete isolation, which is quite fascinating.
You can get your hand on this lovely F.P. Journe here for around HKD150,000
Wild Card: Universal Geneve "Nina Rindt", a Watch of Tragedy (We stand corrected)
For readers who have not heard of the brand Universal Geneve ("UG"), here is a quick summary of the brand. UG used to be a prolific chronograph producer with a number of in-house calibers and was active up to 1960s. They came in a whole range of variations and had cutting-edge designs at that time. To cut a long story short, UG, although still exists as a company, is no longer living up to its former glory due to historical reasons. But that doesn't stop its earlier chronograph references to be sought after by serious watch connoisseurs. In this installment of Weekend Brunch Report we are presenting one such legend in excellent condition.
The watch we are picking here is a fine example of a 1960s tri-compax (with a 3-subdial layout), "panda-dial" reference 885105/03, or more commonly known as the "Nina Rindt". Why this name? Read on.
This model was once worn by the famous model Nina Rindt, nee' Nina Lincoln, who was married to the legendary Formula One driver Joachim Rindt in 1967. Although Joachim died in a crash during a practice run for the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Italy in 1970, he went on to win the Formula One World Driver's Championship posthumously, which has never happened before or since. It was reported that Nina was photographed multiple times wearing this reference after her husband's tragic death, thus giving the watch its nickname.