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Throwback Sundays: Six “Forgotten” Watch Collections, from Our Archives

Forget me not.
by Robin Lim on February 2, 2020

Within a watch brand, there are both popular and less popular models. For some of the brands, it appears that they are known specifically for their flagship collections. The rest of the model then seems to have been forgotten into obscurity.

Some of the greatest examples include Omega Speedmaster and Seamaster, the extensive Rolex “Sports” model collection, as well as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (and the Offshore variant). While there are many other models between these three brands, people have seemed to define these watch manufacturers with their flagship models.

Hence, in this week’s article, we hope that we are able to reintroduce some of the more lesser known models to the collectors. Perhaps these collections are at the back of the head, or they might have been hidden from sight while its siblings are basking in the limelight. Nonetheless, we hope to shine some spotlight on these models.

IWC Da Vinci

The Da Vinci collection by IWC is an intriguing one. First launched in 1969 as a digital quartz watch, the collection is perhaps most well-known for the Perpetual Calendar – where its designs were inspired by the great Leonardo Da Vinci and his Codex Atlanticus.

Over the years, the collection has always been branded as the odd child within the IWC family. The second generation saw the introduction of a strange lug design, while the prior one features an uncommon tonneau-shaped case. The latest generation, however, seems a little more subdued and complementary than its predecessors.

Relaunched in 2017, the latest generation of Da Vinci had reverted back to its round-shape case. The manufacturer had brought back the articulated lugs, albeit with a more restrained design as well. Similar to most of the other collections, the Da Vinci is available in a variety of complications – ranging from the entry-level time-only watch, to the highly complicated tourbillon retrograde chronograph. Prices begin at S$5,400, and we think that this collection certainly deserves more attention that what it is currently receiving.

Omega Constellation Globemaster

Next up, we have the Omega Globemaster. The Globemaster is one of the lesser known collection from Omega. After all, the manufacturer is more well-known for both its legendary Speedmaster and Seamaster collection, which are amongst the best sellers in today’s age.

Launched in Baselworld 2015, the Globemaster drew much of its inspiration from the Constellation of the yesteryears. This includes the pie-pan dial and the retro fluted bezel, as well as the classic medallion that can be found on the caseback of the watch. However, the technical bits are definitely more up-to-date. The watch is fitted with Omega’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement. Notably, the movement is anti-magnetic, and it comes with a date display as well (there is also another model that features the annual calendar complication).

While we were often enamoured by the latest Speedmaster or Seamaster from Omega, we think that the Globemaster is an sublime addition to the family. The classic touches, as well as its clean design, is rather appealing. Even though the watch is slightly pricier at S$9,800 (for the base stainless steel model, with leather strap), but we think that it offers collectors the best of both worlds – a classic and timeless design, coupled with the a capable and robust movement.

Chopard L.U.C

There is something about things that are underrated. We like how they are ticking the right boxes, and yet it is not over-hyped by every single Tom, Dick, and Harry. In short, those who know, will know.

The L.U.C Qualité Fleurier is an apt example of that. For the uninitiated, Chopard is known mostly for its jewellery and Mille Miglia collection. But the L.U.C arm (and Ferdinand Berthoud, arguably) is one of the best kept secrets in the industry. This particular piece – the Qualité Fleurier – is a little bit more special. It is one of the few watches that were awarded the “FQF, La Haute Horlogerie certifiée” – a prestigious certification that is awarded for accuracy and impeccable finishing. The L.U.C certainly did exceptionally well on those two fronts.

The latest version is a 40mm piece named the XPS Twist QF Fairmined (not pictured). Price at CHF 19,300 (approximately S$27,340), the watch surely gives its competitors a run for its money. In addition, we are also impressed with the Fairmine label – where the case is made from gold that are sourced ethically and responsibly. To be very honest, we can’t really think of many watches that can top this Chopard – not certainly at this price point.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59

When Audemars Piguet launched the Code 11.59 last year, it was bombared with a whole load of less than desired comments. In fact, if we could have a dollar for every time a person made a snark remark on the collection, we would have easily been a multi-millionaire…

However, were the comments warranted? After spending some time with the actual timepiece, we think that the Code 11.59 is actually a rather nice watch. This finishing techniques are excellent, and we especially like the subtle but interesting touches on the case – such as the octagon mid-case and the hollowed out lugs. The double curved glareproof sapphire, in addition, is also another sweet touch to the watch. The same goes for the movement as well.

While the 41mm timepiece is still overshadowed by the highly successful Royal Oak collection, but we reckon the Code 11.59 is still a timepiece with many merits. The base model, cased in either white or pink gold, is priced at S$37,600. While it might have been a controversial watch, but we do think that critics might want to see the watch in person before making another judgement call. It is a solid watch after all, and we do think that it is certainly worthy enough to be an Audemars Piguet timepiece.

Rolex Cellini

Forget about the likes of Submariner and Daytona. When it comes to Rolex watches, the Cellini collection is probably one of the best timepieces that is produced by the Geneva-based watch manufacturer.

The Cellini is not a well-known collection. In fact, it is one of the least popular series of watches from Rolex. But for those who knows it, the Cellini is one of the best kept secrets from the famed manufacturer. The Moonphase, for instance, is one of our favourite pieces when it was launched in 2018 Baselworld. It is still one of our favourites, for its elegance and impeccable attention to detail. The latter is especially pronounced in the moonphase indicator, in which is crafted with an enamelled disc and meteorite moon. Stunning is an understatement for that.

The 39mm timepiece is priced at S$35,980. There might be other Rolexes that are priced within the same range too, but we reckon that this Cellini is worth taking the leap of faith. It is a truly special piece, and one that really shows what Rolex is capable of doing.

Seiko Credor Eichi II

Finally, we have a masterpiece from Seiko that was born out of the Micro Artisan Studio. The name’s Credor Eichi II, and it is probably somewhat a lesser-heard collection as compared to its other brethren.

The Eichi II is another simple timepiece, but this is Seiko’s way of letting the finishing shine. The dial is hand made porcelain. The official Seiko communication states that the Eichi II dial is produced by contractor in Nagano and hand-painted by the artisans in Shiojiri by the Micro Artisan Studio. This rules out Noritake which is in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

But the pièce de résistance lies in its Calibre 7R14 movement. The contemporary-looking movement is finished to the highest quality – which includes convex bevelling, anglage, and linear brush finishing. It also features a 60-hour power reserve indicator, as well as Seiko’s proprietary Spring Drive mechanism.

Sized at 39mm, the Eichi II is an excellent dress watch for numerous occasion. It is subtle, simple, but yet very elegant at all angles. The watch is available in many variations, with the rose gold version pricing at ¥4,300,000 and the platinum version at ¥ 5,700,000. With the emergence of the Grand Seiko, the Eichi II is the next best bet for someone who wants a nondescript but high-end timepiece from a top Japanese watch manufacturer.

Concluding Thoughts

In the world of watch collecting, people are often going for the common options. Again, as we have always reiterated – there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, there is a reason why some of the watches are more popular than the others.

However, as a publication, we often wish to advocate the idea of sharing “hidden gems”. Some of these watches today are definitely in the list. The Rolex and Credor Eichi, for instance, are watches that are not well-known to many despite their impressive resumes. The Code 11.59 – on the other hand – is a timepiece that we think is misunderstood by many. But they are definitely worthy of adding into any watch collection.

So, what are your thoughts on the list? What are some of the watches that you reckon deserves a spot in today’s column as well? Let us know in the comments section below!

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