Watch & Bullion’s top 3 under the radar pieces
Watch & Bullion21 March 2016 | 4 min read
As a fan of minimalist pieces, under the radar watches are among my personal favourites. But what makes a good under the radar piece? Simply having a minimalist design does not suffice. Think of the Rolex submariner, it is one of the most recognisable watches despite an arguably humble design. An under the radar piece needs to be outside the spotlight, unnoticed by most, yet is able to glue the gazes of connoisseurs.
With this in mind we want to take the opportunity to show you some of our most interesting under the radar pieces.
3) Rolex Datejust ref.1530
A Rolex always look the same, and attracts more attention than you might be comfortable with, right? Well, not this one. As an Oysterquartz owner I can assure you that this is one of the few Rolex you can wear comfortably without having to fear the brands stigma.
While the design is certainly a break from Rolex’s tradition, it still has every right to wear the crown. Released in 1975 in spur of the revolutionary air brought forth by Genta’s designs, this was the first Rolex to ever feature a sapphire crystal. The integrated bracelet is the highlight here, managing to timelessly capture the design language of the 70s, and despite its age it hardly loses any stiffness.
It is surprising to me that this piece has not been graced by the spotlight. This may be explained in par due to the incredibly low production numbers, which are rumoured to lie between 500 and 1500 pieces, similar to the relatively unpopular Oysterquartz range. It is this rarity however which only adds to its beauty.
The piece we offer is from 1977, which was the last production year, and has undergone a full examination by Geoffrey Ader; Head of Sotheby’s European watch department.
2) LeCoultre Memovox Polaris First edition ref. E859
Titled “one of the coolest vintage watches there is” by Hodinkee, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris remains to be a refreshing and welcome sight. Featuring an alarm function and being a diver watch, makes this not only rare, but also a useful combination both for divers and the everyday man.
This unique flair envisioned for a utilitarian user makes for one of the most honest watches around. The caseback for example, has 16 holes drilled in its back allowing for both a better sounding and louder alarm, something you just don’t find nowadays.
The bracelet was ahead of its time and remains to be, which allows this piece to remain contemporary. The rubber strap has a beautiful weaved optic, which gives it a look similar to carbon fibre.
Our piece is signed LeCoultre, showing it was for the US market, and comes in mint condition with the original tropic bracelet. With just 1,714 models ever made, this is one of the most desirable vintage divers, striking a balance between its contemporary design and rich history.
1) Patek Philippe Split seconds Chronograph in Steel ref.1436
If there is one watch which would struggle to raise an eyebrow on your mother while giving a watch enthusiast a heart attack, is the Patek Philippe reference 1436.
With reportedly only 3 models left in steel, and this one coming with the original buckle, this piece from 1952 truly is a collectors dream and has undergone a full inspection by the Sotheby’s watch department. Its lovely proportions at 33 mm allow it to subtly disappear beneath your shirt, but the electrifying blue hands of the split second chronograph surely won’t go unnoticed at your next watch meet-up.
Much of the beauty in this piece is due to it being out of steel, a material that has been known for its application in tool watches. It took a long time for steel to be an option for high end luxury watches, something only changed by the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Patek on the other hand, had a focus on high end jewellery, making their more utilitarian pieces all the rarer, and all the more desirable.
Even beyond the brand name, this piece will be sure to get a lot of love from watch enthusiasts, thanks to its stunning dial which boasts a great legibility. It is easily the Nr.1 under the radar piece for us, neither requiring fame nor an eccentric design to charm its way into our hearts.
If you want to find out more about these pieces, check out our shop or contact me directly under: