Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. This well-known French epigram translates as, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” – an acknowledgment that even the most progressive ideas pay tribute to their origins. The watch industry is no exception. For every new mechanical triumph, daring aesthetic design and ground-breaking complication, the results can be stunningly incorporated alongside traditional craftsmanship. This fascination with constantly reintroducing improved versions of past creations is not only a sign of respect for the masterpieces but also satisfies the demands of collectors who bid furiously for rare examples of vintage complications.
Jules Audemars Perpetual Calendar
Few brands provoke the sort of bidding wars that make auction houses salivate more than Audemars Piguet. Between 1930 and 1950, Audemars produced only 286 chronographs, and these watches are highly sought after at auction. Over this time period the watches came in many different variations. Some used tachymeter timing scales measuring distance over time. Some used telemeter timing, which measured the distance of a forthcoming event such as a lightning strike or incoming artillery fire. And there were some favored by doctors that used a pulsometer scale to measure heart rate. In 1941, AP produced a chronograph that doubled as an annual perpetual calendar. At only 33 mm, this watch contained not only a three dial chronograph, but also a perpetual calendar measuring day, date, month, moon phase, and even leap year. A couple of years ago AP released a tribute piece titled the Jules Audemars Perpetual Calendar. Although lacking a chronograph function, the dial of the watch had a symmetrical, four-dial configuration with a beautifully contrasting moon phase. The extra thin automatic movement contains more than 343 parts. Someday it will hopefully produce just as much fervor with collectors.
Westime Beverly Hills
Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysics Chronometre 1958
This year JLC has reintroduced a modern version of the Geophysic 1958. Beginning in late 1957, a group of 67 countries jointly declared the International Geophysical year and set off to discover the last unexplored areas of planet Earth. In honor of this declaration, JLC released a watch, measuring 35 mm, with a clean face and all of the necessary gumption to be shock resistant, water resistant, and the ability to withstand magnetic fields up to 600 gaus. The watch was aboard the USS Nautilus in 1958, the first nuclear-powered submarine, which sailed on a secret journey under the polar ice sheet traversing the shortest distance between the two oceans in three days. Fast forward to today, and the watch has been released in gold, platinum, and steel with an increased and more modern case size of 38.5 mm. The watch has also been updated with a 28,800 vph automatic movement, (instead of hand wound), with stop-second time setting and ceramic ball bearings that never require lubrication. The spirit and look of the original have been reborn with modern technical precision.
Polacheck’s Jewelers, Calabasas
OMEGA Speedmaster Mark II
Vintage chronographs are some of the hottest pieces at auction, and OMEGA’s Speedmaster Mark II is as highly sought after now as it was after its release in 1969. The original Mark II contained a hand wound movement that OMEGA used for over 20 years and measured more than 41 mm across a slightly oblong case. The watch stayed in production for nearly three years, and its distinctive hash markings gave the dial an extremely technical and active look. The 2014 version of the watch has been significantly updated on the inside with OMEGA’s latest self-winding co-axial chronograph movement. This movement has a silicon balance spring along with an updated modernized column wheel for the chronograph movement, which increases the accuracy of the timing mechanism. On the outside, a splash of orange has been introduced to the interior rim of the dial along with an orange seconds hand, but the crown, pushers, and over-all markings on the dial have stayed true to history.
OMEGA Boutique, Beverly Center
De Bethune’s The Ninth Mayan Underworld
The ancient Mayan civilization of Central and Southern America built hundreds of fascinating and incredibly complex pyramids that are still standing. Not surprisingly, the pyramid was a spiritual shape of significant meaning, with the ninth level of the pyramid symbolizing the advent of the new world. At this level, humans achieved their highest level of consciousness and were thus re-born. In honor of this event finally occurring on the Mayan calendar,
De Bethune has released a stunning piece of horology covered
in intricate design and incredible craftsmanship.
- Only 12 pieces were produced, all with hand engraved dials by Michele Rothen
- The hour circles display the numbers of the Mayan numeral system
- 20 glyphs are carved on the inner ring representing animals, sacred objects, and Gods
- Mayan Scholars developed a complex mathematical system that used symbols to represent time periods.
/ $95,000 (SOLD OUT)
Westime Los Angeles
CSQ&A with Randy Brandoff, CEO & Founder, Eleven James
Members Only, With a Twist
Randy Brandoff founded Eleven James in December 2013 out of a belief that consumers of luxury products want access, not necessarily ownership. Having spent much of his career at Marquis Jet and NetJets, Brandoff believed there was space in the market for an exclusive club designed for watch lovers of all experience levels.
CSQ Where did you get the idea for Eleven James?
RANDY BRANDOFF In the decade-plus I spent at Marquis Jet and NetJets, I witnessed the rise of luxury collaborative consumption (or shared-asset business
models). From one generation to another, virtually every luxury asset class can be enjoyed in greater variety, with myriad ancillary services and benefits, at a fraction of
the cost of buying a single one. As a passionate watch collector – the more variety I obtained, the more I wanted. Growing apathetic to each new acquisition all too
quickly, I became convinced that I could apply a NetJets-meets-Netflix type model to luxury watches.
CSQ You’re turning a prized, often passed-down, possession into a rental item. How has such a turning of the tide been received?
RB We have seen passionate collectors and new market entrants alike embrace our model. For collectors who crave variety, Eleven James provides access to three to six exceptional timepieces a year for a modest financial commitment, with no risk or hassle. We make it easy to “try before you buy” your next watch and, as one member put it, “there are far more watches that you want to date than you want to marry.”
CSQ Describe the ideal Eleven James client.
RB We are fortunate to have members across the country, spanning a spectrum of age groups and income brackets. While it’s hard to pinpoint “ideal,” what our members all have in common is a strong interest in luxury watches, a thirst for variety, a desire for attentive personal service, and an appreciation for the vast benefits of membership.