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EdgyGuyJide

Bring a Loupe An IWC Portofino Moonphase Ref. 5251, A 1962 Breitling Unitime Ref. 2610, And An Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 5402SA

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New year, new watches. Well, old watches, technically speaking, but you get the idea. We’re back with a little mix of everything, ranging from a vintage oversized IWC to an affordable offering from Hamilton, and an undervalued, GMT-equipped Breitling. Since it is a new year, and we intend to continue to bring the heat, we’ve also included an early Royal Oak, and a Reverso with military provenance. These are truly watches you don’t see everyday, and by tomorrow they could very well be sold. Time to dive in!

IWC Portofino Moonphase Ref. 5251

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This is what’s known as an objectively cool watch. It’s essentially the result of watchmaking legend extraordinaire Kurt Klaus’s desire to install the Cal. 9521 pocket watch movement inside a wristwatch, given its sheer beauty and importance to the brand. This effectively launched the iconic Portofino line, and made a splash in the watch world, given the unconventional nature of a 46 mm dress watch in the early 1980s. No two ways about it – it’s dope. But for me, it’s a bit more than that. 

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As a kid, I can remember walking into Selfridge’s in London and immediately being stunned by the seemingly never-ending displays belonging to all the top manufacturers. For whatever reason, I was particularly attracted to a watch inspired by the aforementioned Ref. 5251, the identically complicated modern Ref. 5448 in steel, which also measures 46 mm across. I guess you could say it challenged my idea of what a dress watch could look like, inspiring me to dive into researching the earliest days of IWC, along with the later development of the Ref. 5251.

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It’s believed that somewhere in the ballpark of 350 examples of this reference were produced back in the 80s, which makes sense given the slim popularity of oversized dress watches at the time. All in all, it’s really a special piece, that I implore you to go for it should you ever have the opportunity to try one on. 

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The Miami based dealer Matthew Bain has this example of the Ref. 5251 listed for $17,000. Find more details in the full listing.

1962 Breitling Unitime Ref. 2610

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and once more after that just for good measure. There are some serious deals to be had in vintage Breitling. While they might not have the same icon-on-the-wrist shock factor as some other watches dating back to the '60s and '70s, they’re nothing short of wildly compelling and attractive, from both mechanical and aesthetic standpoints. 

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We've featured Ref. 2610 Unitime GMT's before, but to give you an idea of the numerous variants that Breitling produced in their heyday, let’s take a look at another. This particular version features a black bakelite bezel in place of the usual stainless steel, but like other watches with four digit references, a bezel swap can make all the difference in changing the overall feel of a piece. 

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Condition wise, this piece has certainly seen its fair share of action, though it's still rather sharp. Slightly worn dial aside, the watch looks to be unpolished, with thick lugs and a defined case architecture. You’ll also notice that the engravings found on the caseback are still deep as can be, further suggesting that this piece just might have escaped the wrath of the polishing wheel. The original crown is nice to see, as well, since many of these pieces are seen with replaced parts.

Farfo Vintage Watches is asking $5,999 for this example, which seems relatively reasonable all things considered. 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 5402SA

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Two tone watches have never been my thing. Maybe it's because I've seen too many sunburned retirees down south sporting weathered examples of such timepieces, but they’ve just never done it for me. Even upon purchasing a mint Root Beer GMT, I swapped out the bracelet for a full steel Oyster. With that said, there are exceptions, and this is most definitely one of them. Perhaps the only one in my books? 

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You likely know the story of the Royal Oak by now, so I won’t bore you with tales of Genta and last-minute design deadlines, but what is important to note is that the now-iconic watch was launched in an effort to create a new class of luxury timepieces crafted in steel. Knowing this, it makes the release of the two-tone 5402SA rather puzzling, but upon seeing the watch, its creation makes perfect sense. 

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Many attribute the full gold-esque warmth that this piece affords to the attention-demanding contrast that’s created by the grey “tapisserie” dial against the gold octagonal bezel, and I don’t think they’re the slightest bit wrong. It’s simply a two-tone watch that feels infinitely more extravagant than the average two-tone piece, partially explaining why they’re now so sought after. 

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A Collected Man out of London has priced this sharp example which includes the original box at GBP 26,000.

Hamilton Intra-Matic

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One of my earliest jobs in watches was on the frontlines, working sales. It’s an interesting gig in that you’re bound to watch people make “mistakes” on the daily, but alas, we’re not all nutty, obsessive (read: passionate and dedicated) collectors. That said, it was an exciting opportunity to help steer first-time buyers in the direction of something truly worthy of their diligently saved dollars, which during my stint usually came in the form of a Hamilton Intra-Matic. 

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Hamilton reissued their unassuming Intra-Matic line not too long ago, and it checked most if not all of the boxes. Reliable, mechanical, affordable, versatile – you get the idea. Best of all, it stayed true to the design language of the original Intra-Matics, like the one in question today. At 35 mm across, it’s slightly smaller than the newer interpretation, but the smaller wrist presence is made up for and then some by the 30-jewel Cal. 92 micro-rotor movement you’ll find beneath the caseback of this piece suited for everyday wear. 

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Interestingly enough, this piece is priced similarly to the modern reinterpretation; though in my opinion, it’s got a lot more to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or someone just jumping into the madness for the first time, this would make an excellent addition to your arsenal, so to speak.

New York City’s Analog Shift has this conservative timepiece on the site for $995, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a watch this cool for the money. 

1933 Jaeger LeCoultre Military Reverso

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To end things off for the week, we’ve got something you really don’t see every day. It’s a military watch, but not the military watch you’re expecting. As the creases at the lugs and ornate rear engraving would suggest, this is a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, originally designed for British polo players in India, but as you’ll soon find out, this piece likely spent the bulk of its time on a field of different sorts. 

Upon taking a closer look at the enamel engraving, you’ll find the words “Royal Berkshire” presented proudly below what’s known in British military circles as the “China Dragon Cap Badge.” Logically, this would indicate that the watch was delivered to a high ranking official of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, as presumably not all were outfitted with a watch of such quality. 

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The watch does have a reprinted dial, which is usually cause for me to turn the other way and keep walking, but this piece is another story. Given the amount of history that this watch has undoubtedly seen, and the special place it holds within both Reverso and military watch-collecting circles, I’d suggest looking past the dial in this instance and instead focusing on the bigger picture. 

Eric Wind of Wind Vintage has this piece listed on his site for $6,500. 

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