This week, we start with two outstanding tool watches, each with their own merits. While the Patek reference 3417 represented the manufacture’s classy take on antimagnetic watches, the Omega Seamaster Memomatic offers a unique functionality as being the only alarm wristwatch where you could set the alarm to the minute. We have also included a splendid Longines with military provenance, and a Zenith El Primero with an interesting dial. This is your Bring A Loupe for April 7, 2017.
An Omega Memomatic Reference 166.072
The Memomatic is a distinctive alarm watch in that it allows you to precisely set the alarm to the minute, while its competitors such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox only allow you to pinpoint an approximate time. The caliber 980 that allows such a feat is also automatic (hence the Memomatic name) and a self-winding mechanism powers the alarm complication as well. A recessed pusher at 3 o’clock controls the quick-set date.
This very smart piece was first launched in 1969; the tastes of the time are evident in its case shape. It comes in a variety of dial configurations; there are silver dial models like the one you see here, but also some with blue and orange notes (again, reflecting contemporary market preferences). The finishing of the case and the applied logo, shows that the Memomatic was definitely not engineered as an economy model. Here, the case is well preserved with very obvious chamfers and a nice brushing over the lugs. Lastly, the seller notes that the watch was recently serviced, and that it works without issues.
This Omega Memomatic is currently listed for 1,590€ (or around $1,700)
A Patek Philippe Amagnetic Reference 3417
The late 1950s saw the development of many anti-magnetic wristwatches from Rolex, Omega, Eberhard and IWC, but we should not forget Patek Philippe, which released the elegant stainless steel reference 3417 in 1958. It was rightly christened the "Amagnetic", which was written in a very delicate font on its dial. It is estimated that at most 600 examples were made until the production stopped in 1970, not all of them featuring the "Amagnetic" signature on the dial. A couple of changes happened through the production period, as the The Complete Guide To The Patek Philippe Reference 3417 Amagnetic properly documents.
Looking at this 3417 we can already tell from its hand-wound caliber 27-AM 400 that it was produced after 1960. Its dial gives an even better indication of the timeline, as its "Type 3" specifications (the dotted minute track, the SWISS mention and the characteristic sub-second register) can only be found from 1965 onward (so actually slightly later than the listing’s mention of 1964). We cannot confirm the year from the serial number on the movement (it is not visible on the pictures) but it seems from the engravings on the caseback that at least this part was replaced during a service. Finally, the seller notes that the offering also includes a Patek-signed strap and buckle.
The German dealer Meertz offers this Patek Philippe Amagnetic for 38,500€ (or around $41,000)
A Military Longines 13ZN Reference 6486
The flyback feature of the Longines caliber 13ZN was a definite selling point for the armed forces, which explains a 1937 order from the Romanian army. This consisted of two references, the 6476 and the present reference 6486. Longines were not the only supplier for that order, since Omega also delivered some watches. The example here appears in the Army register, apparently the first of the reference 6486 watches that were delivered.
The seller notes that the watch was recently serviced, and that the chronograph and flyback complications are working well. The dial seems in great condition, with the expected radium radiation noted (measured with a Geiger counter). Its 35.5mm case exhibits stamping of the serial number on several locations – on the movement, dust cover, caseback and bezel – which allows us to check that those parts are original to the watch.
This military Longines 13ZN is offered on the Omega Forums for $24,000.
A Lip Genève Chronograph With Oversized Sub-Registers
Interesting Lip chronographs do not stop at the blue "Paul Newman" I recently obsessed about. This reverse panda dial definitely belongs to that list of coveted references, although the present example is not in the best shape. Its dial is interesting nonetheless for the Genève mention, underlining Swiss manufacturing for the French brand, which was likely a move to go more upscale. This is actually confirmed by the stainless steel case ("Tout Acier" engraved on the inner side of the caseback) as Lip chronos of this period (1960s) usually had only stainless steel casebacks, with the rest of the case chrome-plated. Interestingly, this chronograph shares many features with the Breitling 765 AVI, especially the looks of its oversized sub-registers, and of the handset (the caliber Venus 178 is another common point, but to be fair a lot of other brands were also using that chronograph movement).
The 39mm case of this Lip is also one of its talking points, and not only because of its large dimensions for the time. It is indeed monobloc, meaning that the caseback and case make one single part, which allows better water-resistance. This also explains the recommendation to open the case from the front, engraved in French on the outer side of the caseback. This very caseback gives another interesting indication in the form of the "EPSA" engraving, which stands for the watch case manufacturer Ervin Piquerez S.A., – EPSA as you may know, was an innovator in creating case designs that would offer improved water resistance, such as the Compressor and Super Compressor constructions.
You can find this Lip chronograph on Ebay with current bidding just above $1,900.
Bidder Beware: A Zenith El Primero G381, With Questionable Dial
Who doesn’t love a nice original El Primero? While the stainless steel versions are better known, several references came with a gold case, including the reference G381. It was previously featured in this column, and two things were noted: its case shape is identical to the beloved El Primero reference A386, and it is actually rarer than the A386, as the G381 was only produced in 700 examples between 1969 and 1972. And its 38mm case is made of 18ct yellow gold, which never hurts.
Yet, besides the metal of the case, the dial is the one very big difference between the A386 and the G381, and here we have an issue; this dial shows the tri-color registers of the A386. Another detail is even more worrying: the long loop on the letter "o" in "El Primero," which is a characteristic sign of service dials. There is therefore little doubt that this Zenith was never born with such a dial, a fact that the seller properly addresses, although one might disagree with the claim that a handful of G381 actually exhibited similar tri-color dials from the start (and members from the Omega Forums massively did last year).
A dealer based in the UK priced this perplexing Zenith El Primero G381 at £8,950 (or around $11,150).