Since we began exploring the topic of rare and discontinued watches some time back, we have already covered a total of 18 timepieces. This, as one would imagine, is certainly only at the tip of the iceberg.
This week, we will continue to explore more of such wondrous timepieces. Similar to the past articles, we do not have any specific criteria to narrow down our options. Instead, we will be selecting the watches based on their merits, such as quality, horological value, as well as aesthetics. This time, we will also try to include some pieces that are more modestly priced as well – unlike the past articles where we have only featured the high-end watches.
So, what are the watches that we have selected today? Here we go! As usual in no particular order.
Oldies But Goodies: another six rare and discontinued watches (Part IV)
Omega Speedmaster MK40
We begin the article with a modern classic from the Speedmaster line-up. Cue the vibrant and spritely Speedmaster MK40.
The MK40 is an interesting deviation from the standard Speedmaster collection. It comes in a smaller case (at 39mm, versus the typical 42mm for the Speedmaster Professional), an automatic movement, as well as a triple date complication. What we particularly like is this functionality, as well as the use of different colours for the watch to differentiate between the various functions or indicators. The latter certainly adds quite a bit of excitement to an otherwise serious watch.
While the automatic variants of the Speedmasters are typically less popular, we can definitely see the appeal of it – especially at its price point in the used market (albeit prices have gone up by quite a fair bit over the last couple of years). The fact that it has a triple calendar complication, on top of a chronograph function, makes the MK40 a rather complicated timepiece. If one is looking for a model classic, the MK40 is surely worth a strong consideration.
IWC Ingenieur Ref. 3508
There is just something about old IWC watches, and somehow, we are unable to put words and explain why we are so enamoured by them. The brilliant IWC Ingenieur Ref. 3508 is an excellent example.
Launched in the 1990s, the Ingenieur Ref. 3508 – also known as the 500,000 A/m model – is an over-engineered and over-designed watch. Not only is the watch the first of its kind to have such a high anti-magnetic rating, but it also does so in a stunning manner – thanks to the late Gerald Genta who had a hand in designing this handsome timepiece. The 34mm timepiece features all the hallmarks of a classic luxury sports watch, with a rather nicely designed integrated bracelet to boot.
Given that there are only an estimated 2,000 pieces produced, the IWC Ingenieur Ref. 3508 is certainly a collectable timepiece – if it is not already on the radar of serious watch collectors. The fact that it is designed by Gerald Genta makes it a tad even more special.
Jaeger LeCoultre Geophysic True Second
We move on to a lesser-known timepiece from the venerable Jaeger LeCoultre: Geophysic True Second.
The Geophysic True Second is a timepiece with an interesting history. The collection can trace its roots back to 1958, in which the collection was created to celebrate JLC’s 125th Anniversary and the world’s first “International Geophysical Year”. Production for the collection is scarce, it was only manufactured for two years. It is said that only around 1,230 pieces from the original collection were produced in its short life span.
JLC brought back the collection a few years back, and the True Second is one of the more intriguing pieces in the collection. The watch is fitted with JLC’s Calibre 770, and its main highlight is the seconde morte mechanism. This is similar to the movement of the seconds hand in a quartz movement, in which the hand advances only once a second. However, achieving this from a mechanical timepiece is not an easy feat – more information on this particular movement and mechanism can be found in our review article of the watch.
Interestingly, the modern Geophysic collection did not last too long as well – for reasons unknown to us. It is a solid collection, and the unusual dead-beat seconds complication adds a rather interesting dimension to the watch as well. This is certainly a compelling timepiece, and one that certainly deserves much more attention.
Montblanc Villeret 1858 Vintage Pulsographe
For a brand that is most known for its pen and leather products, Montblanc also do produces some incredible watches. The Villeret 1858 Vintage Pulsographe is one of such sublime timepieces.
By any account, this Villeret 1858 is by no means an ordinary timepiece. The watch features a Minerva movement (Calibre M13.21), which is known for producing some of the finest movements in the earlier parts of the 21st century. What Montblanc had done, post-acquisition of Minerva, is to use their designs and add additional finishing touches to bring the movement onto a whole new level altogether. In addition, this particular limited-edition piece is fitted with a luscious black grand feu enamel dial, and certainly completes the entire package altogether with the well-finished movement.
Over the last few years, Montblanc had really stepped up and produced a number of stunning timepieces. This version, in particular, works really well for us – possibly due to the nice contrast between the stunning black enamel dial and the warm rose gold case. This one is indeed a rather special timepiece in its own right.
Cartier Tank à Vis
Cartier is a maison which has a rich history in horology, and the Tank à Vis – which was inspired by the Tank Étanche of 1931 – is another exceptional piece that continues to tell the story of this fabled name.
Launched in 2001, the Tank à Vis spots a slightly different look from the usual Tank watches. This is alluded to in the rounded and thicker case of the timepiece, as well as the distinctive bezel studs with screws. What also makes the Tank à Vis a rather magnificent piece is also the fact that it was reintroduced under the Collection Privée Cartier Paris (“CPCP”) programme, which meant that special care was taken to produce the timepiece. This includes the use of only precious metals for the case, guilloché dial, and the inclusion of mechanical movement.
For most esteemed collectors, the watches from Cartier’s CPCP collection are perhaps some of the most sought-after pieces given its rarity, as well as the extraordinary designs which are remarkably different from what the market typically offers. There is just something special about them.
Patek Philippe Ref. 3940
We round up the article with one of the most revered perpetual calendar wristwatches in modern watchmaking: Patek Philippe Ref. 3940.
The watch debuted in 1985, when watches with serious complications were far and few due to the onset of the “Quartz Crisis”. Not only did the watch set itself as one of the most important timepieces in modern horological history, but this 36mm timepiece is also famously the daily watch of Philippe Stern (the former president of Patek Philippe). Such is the significance and allure of this reference.
For many, the old-school Reference 3940 is the quintessential timepiece for Patek Philippe watches when it comes to complications. Its modest size, together with the classic layout and legendary Calibre 240Q movement, makes the watch a rather compelling one indeed. Combined with its provenance and its historical significance, there are in fact not many watches out there that command as much respect as this particular Patek Philippe watch.
There is just something about these watches – a sort of old-school charm, as one might put it. Beyond their “dated” looks, there are also great stories that these watches can tell, and that is something that most modern timepieces – including the vintage re-issues – are not able to do so.
The only exception to the list is the JLC Geophysic, which is rather modern in comparison to the rest of the watches. However, we feel that it deserves some sort of recognition, for the fact that it is a brilliant watch at an exceptional price point. It is a shame that JLC did not continue to produce timepieces from the collection. We do think that it is surely worth some attention, and in fact, this might just be a potential dark horse in terms of future collectability.
Anyhow, we hope that you have enjoyed this week’s article. These watches are certainly worth exploring, and frankly, there is nothing that brings more satisfaction in watch collecting than to find a rare timepiece that has an interesting story to tell!