When it comes to discovering unworn watches, they truly don’t get better than this!
If there’s one thing that the watch-obsessed among us goes crazy for, it’s originality. This is something that commonly baffles people who are not into horology, but a watch that is covered in scratches, with a faded bezel and less than perfect dial condition is commonly more desirable than a fully-restored piece. Service hands, a brand new dial and a case that has been polished by a friendly neighbourhood watchmaker are all things that can massively harm the value of a vintage piece.
Originality is key as it highlights provenance and provides a heightened level of reassurance, knowing that the watch on your wrist hasn’t been tampered with by unwanted hands. But the watch we have here is just a tad different. Quite simply, this is the dream find for anyone deeply into watches – with an equally impressive story to match.
Although it was three years after the end of the war, 1948 Germany was far from a peaceful place to be. The Berlin Blockade was underway and the Cold War was in its early stages. One resident was keen to move to the USA, and in doing so was encouraged to put his money into gold.
Naturally, he decided to put his money in a watch. The model of choice was a 1940s Heuer Triple Calendar Chronograph in yellow gold. I know, right? A man of taste…
This is a model from Heuer that predates the brand’s synonymous ties with motorsport, large sizes and funky 70s colour palettes. This is a relic from an era of Heuer propelled by elegance and infused with charm and complex watchmaking. This example at 36mm wide is a large piece and would have been quite noticeable on the wrist during its time period: not that it looks like this specific example has ever seen a wrist.
It seems that the only time this watch was ever fitted to a watch strap was when it was purchased back in the 1940s. The condition of this watch is staggeringly perfect. It's hard to wrap your head around how clean and unblemished the dial condition is. Normally, seeing a watch from this era in this condition could raise some red flags and hint towards some dial refinishing, cleaning or even it being a replacement.
That’s simply not the case with this watch. It comes from the grandson of the original owner, who can attest to this watch's original condition. Although he adored the piece and its ties to his grandfather, he knew it was time to move it on to someone who would equally appreciate it.
That person was of course Jonathan of vintageheuer.com. He tells me it's a piece he has had for some years now and – being totally honest – he isn’t sure what to do with it. This isn’t a watch you can just sell to anyone on the street who likes watches. Its purpose has evolved from being a wristwatch into a time capsule back to an era with such fascination around it.
It has remained in perfect condition for the best part of 80 years. Is now the time to strap it on the wrist and enjoy it? Should it continue to be treated as a museum piece and simply appreciated for what it is? It’s an awkward question to answer and one that Jonathan has been pondering for some years.
The buyer of this watch will need to be someone who is deeply connected to what this piece means and just how special it is to see a watch like this, from a brand such as Heuer, in a genuinely perfect condition. Jonathan is rightfully proud of the watch and is happy to keep it in his safe until the right person comes along.
You might be wondering what happened to the grandson of the original owner? Well, he picked up a modern Heuer to remember his grandfather’s watch in a meaningful way, enabling him to strap something on his wrist every day that provides a connection to previous generations.
To find out more about Jonathan and his VintageHeuer site, keep an eye on the Online Magazine in the coming days and weeks as we have more coverage in the works.
For the time being, make sure you head over to vintageheuer.com.
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