On The Square

Five Great, Affordable Watches Up for Sale in Geneva

By Aaron Rich

May 05,2015 | 09:00 EDT

Buying a watch can be an incredibly intimidating task. Watch geeks love using technical jargon for things that we know by other words, we worry about troubles with authenticity in a complicated piece that has so many components, the movement of the watch—the part that makes it tick—is hidden from view and entirely mysterious. The auction of Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces coming up this Sunday at Antiquorum, however, is a great venue to find some fantastic watches that are not too expensive and have a great look.

First things first, it can be somewhat daunting to bid in an auction abroad in a foreign currency. Don’t worry about this. Antiquorum is in the business of selling watches globally and will make this part of the process painless. You can easily make payment by wire transfer in Swiss Francs (or any other currency if you’re buying in another country) and the auction house will organize shipping for you without any pain. Still, you should ask them about duties and taxes when you bring the watch into the country.

Below is a selected fantastic chronographs, which is to say stopwatches. Almost all of them on the lower scale of the price spectrum and all of them are totally cool and unusual.

On the left: Lot 2: OMEGA, REF. 176.007, SEAMASTER AUTOMATIC CHRONOGRAPH, STEEL Omega, "Seamaster Automatic chronograph", No. 31649659, Ref. 176.007. Made in the 1970s. On the right: Lot 12: OMEGA CHRONOGRAPH STAIN LESS STEEL Omega, No. 10828765, Ref. 2277-2. Made in the late 1950s.

1.) This is a great-looking and unusual Omega Seamaster with a chronograph, or stopwatch, and date. The special thing about this watch is the 24-hour indication near 9 o’clock, which will tell you if it’s 6 am or 6 pm, for instance. It’s certainly a bit of a gimmick that you could do by looking out the window, but it’s a very cool thing to have for a world traveler.

2.) This is a slightly older watch that has a great look and a great value. The lugs, the four metal posts that come off the case to attach to the strap, are unusually flared and the fact that it has two registers, or chronograph counters, as opposed to just one, makes this a top-level watch for the era it was made. This piece has a great vintage style.

Left: Lot 271: UNIVERSAL WATCH SINGLE-BUTTON CHRONOGRAPH STEEL Universal Watch, Genève, case No. 547898. Made circa 1935.

Middle: Lot 355: CYMA FOR HERMES STEEL DOCTORS CHRONOGRAPH EXOTIC LUGS Cyma, No. 119396, retailed by Hermès. Made circa 1940.

Right: Lot 376: UNIVERSAL REF. 22414 AÉRO-COMPAX STEEL Universal, Genève, "Aéro-Compax", case No. 1487577, Ref. 22414. Made in the late 1950s.

3.) This watch has the great look of the bold, black dial with white baton indexes and was possibly made for use by the military or aviators. The single button chronograph allows one to start, stop and reset the timer in one place. The look of steel and a black dial can always move between elegant and dressy or sporty and casual. This looks like a watch from the Deco-influenced ‘30s, but not very worn or abused.

4.) Cyma is a less known, but totally excellent Swiss watch company and this is a piece they made for the fashion house Hermes. Not only does this watch have a fantastic black dial with distinct Arabic numerals, but it also has one of the nicest and most unusual cases with stepped, fluted, hooded lugs. The fact that it is retailed and signed by Hermes makes it much more unusual and special.

5.) This is one of the most unusual and most under-appreciated models Universal ever made. Its distinguishing feature is the “memento dial” at the top, which allows the user to set a visual time reminder for themselves. In other words, if you have an appointment at 3:30 in the afternoon and don’t want to forget about it, you can set the upper dial (with the crown at 9 o’clock) to 3:30 and when the normal watch reads 3:30, both dials will look the same and you will remember your event. This is a low-tech, over-engineered version of tying a string to your finger, or an alarm that makes no sound. It sells for less than other Universal chronographs from this era and has a great look.

One last thing to remember about buying an online auction is that it’s always wise to request a condition report for anything you are thinking about buying. If you can’t look at the piece in person, you should also ask for an expert to examine the piece with you on the phone and let you know any other thoughts they have about the piece. This way you will have no surprises when you get the item.

Browse Antiquorums Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces sale on May 10th >