For Your Reference
I’ve given a brief history of the Rolex Air-King before, but today we’re going in-depth on the longest-running model in the Air-King’s history: the Air-King Reference 5500. Manufactured for over 30 years, the Ref. 5500 is one of the longest-running models in the history of Rolex. Introduced in 1957 and remaining in production until it was replaced by the Reference 14000 in 1989, it’s truly an iconic Rolex model.
The Ref. 5500 is a continuation of the Air-King name that Rolex first introduced with the Reference 4925 in the 1940s alongside names like Air-Giant, Air-Lion and Air-Tiger that flamed out. Rolex had originally introduced the Air-King as a variation of the Oyster Perpetual, intended to honor RAF pilots who served during World War II.
While this particular Air-King may not drive the passion of collectors like some more popular Rolex models, there is still plenty here for a budding enthusiast to sink his or her teeth into. And, since the Air-King continues to fly under the radar, even the most rare of Air-Kings can typically be had at an affordable price. Read More
With vintage Rolex prices continuing to skyrocket and showing no signs of slowing down, collectors have been looking for other places to invest their money. Most notably, this has meant an increased recognition of the importance of historic brands like Movado or Universal Geneve as collectors have come to appreciate the impact these companies had on the entire watch industry. But, it has also meant collectors are increasingly looking toward more modern Rolex references for the “next big thing.” Words like “transitional” and “neo-vintage” have become almost as common in collector parlance as “exotic” and “tropical” dial descriptions for the watches of a previous generation. But what do these terms actually mean, and what does a collector need to know if he or she is venturing into “transitional” Rolex?
I recently looked back at John Mayer’s 2014 article “5 Best Vintage Rolex Picks for under $8,000”. Consider this article something of a 2019 update of those recommendations, as most of John’s picks from 2014 will today set you back well over $8,000. Read More
Just for Fun
Back in March, the prodigal son returned. John Mayer returned to the Hodinkee universe, joining Ben Clymer for Talking Watches 2 to show off some 20 watches (mostly Rolex Daytonas) from his collection. See our analysis on how much each piece is worth here.
The video was a follow up to the first-ever Talking Watches, which John Mayer joined Hodinkee for way back in 2013. Like many others, this simple eight-minute video has had a profound impact on my life (some may consider this statement depressing). I was a senior in college when this video was released, still thought John Mayer dropped bangers, and had always had a passing interest in watches. But this video made me feel like it was okay to go deep. And so I did. Read More
Just for Fun
Nowadays most Rolex models have a 6-digit reference number, beginning with a “1” (or more recently, “2”). The next three digits represent the model number (usually also starting with a “1”, though newer models now use “2”). After that, the reference number lets you know the bezel type, bracelet type, followed by letters to indicate bezel color (if necessary). Read More
Just for Fun
Way back in 2012, John Mayer wrote an article for a young Hodinkee titled “The Five Best Buys in Vintage Rolex for $8,000 or Less”. It was a fine article with a lovely premise: you don’t need to be rich like John Mayer to own a desirable vintage watch from the Crown.
Well, 2012 was a much simpler time. John Mayer’s collection has grown up, as has the vintage watch industry as a whole. Let’s take a look back at John’s list: if you had invested in his portfolio of five vintage Rolexes, how would you have made out over the ensuing seven years? Read More
It’s that time of year. Far and away, our most popular article of 2018 was The Best Everyday Watches of 2018. Turns out a lot of people are searching for the best everyday watch, the best go-anywhere-do-anything (GADA) watch, or the watch to make the perfect one-watch collection (yes, you can have a one-watch collection. That’s a hill I’ll die on).
With the 2019 trade shows (meh as they were) in the rearview mirror, it’s time to update the list for 2019. In 2018, I looked at the best watches that you could still buy new. For 2019, we’re changing the rules. I’m going to look at the best vintage, pre-owned, and new everyday watches out there.
A reminder: there are no real requirements for an everyday watch besides general durability and comfort. We’re talking about watches that can be dressed up or dressed down. Watches that look as good with a suit as they do alongside a t-shirt and jeans. Lume and water resistance are nice, but not necessary. An everyday wearer can come on a bracelet or strap, as long as it sits comfortably on the wrist. And while we’re willing to pay good money for a watch we’re going to be wearing every day, we can’t spend so much that we feel we have to baby it through every door jamb.
First, up, the best everyday watches you can buy new. I’ve broken them down into three categories: (1) the Under $2,000 Club, (2) the Microbrands, and (3) the Classics. Read More
For Your Reference
This is a study of Movado 95M chronographs, particularly those housed in François Borgel manufactured, water-resistant, 35.5mm cases. Much of the following derives from a library of examples, compiled thanks to many collectors and sales across the web. The independent conclusions are based on this library as well as period advertisements and literature. Naming conventions presented and used are my own.
Movado, in a previous era, offered a catalog more on par with Longines and Universal Genéve, than Michael Kors and Hugo Boss. The brand boasted a horological pedigree dating back to 1881 with innovations such as the ingeniously curved calibre Polyplan, and over six decades of in-house movements. Mid-century Movados are remarkable watches, none more the case than Borgel 95M’s.
While FB and Movado offered a waterproof two register in 1939— the first hard evidence of a FB case 95M comes from 1946. Movado made most of its 90M watches in the 40s and 50s whereas 95M examples seem to date more to the 50s and 60s; an eight-year delay between a water-resistant 90M and 95M is not unbelievable. My conclusion is that the 95M was certainly in a FB case by 1946 and could have been offered in the years prior, I just do not know. Read More
Switzerland’s little known, second-oldest watch brand and its fascinating history that intersects with Bovet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and others.
The history of the watch industry is littered with defunct brands, many of which met their demise during the quartz crisis of the 1970s. Others were gobbled up by large conglomerates during this time. And finally, some companies transformed into just a skeleton of the fine watch manufacturers they had been for years, sometimes centuries prior. That’s what has happened to Favre-Leuba. It’s a Swiss watch manufacturer still in existence to this day, headquartered in Zug, Swizterland (separately referred to as the “Crypto Valley” by some Ethereum nerds, more on that in a minute).
Favre-Leuba traces its roots back to 1737, making it the second-oldest watch brand in Switzerland, after Blancpain (1735). It was founded by Abraham Favre in Le Locle, Switzerland, who was eventually appointed the “master watchmaker” of Le Locle, a position that every city should have. Read More
I recently posted about why I want Merci’s LMM-01 field watch so bad, but there was a small detail about that watch that’s stuck with me: French President Emmanuel Macron wears one. Like President Obama, Macron seems to find joy (and easy political points) in wearing a watch from his home country. But as I thought about it, it’s an idea I’m drawn to as well. Sure, we’re all citizens of the world, but we’re also proud of where we’re from. “American made,” especially in the context of watches, can be a hard term to pin down; it’s part marketing ploy, part statement of origin. And it’s not without controversy. Read More
Are you an investment banker, lawyer, consultant, or young professional looking to make the right impression with your bosses and clients? There’s no better way to do it than having the right watch on your wrist. In professional, hierarchical settings, it’s important for young professionals to have the “right” watch. This means your watch can make a statement, but you can’t be flexing on your boss. It can signal to other watch enthusiasts that you’re into watches, but you probably shouldn’t be wearing around your (or your boss’s) grail yet. Read More
And just as quickly as the blog boys descended upon Baselworld a week ago, they were gone. Now all were left with are a few great watches, a bunch of press releases, and a few more names on the local Rolex AD’s waitlist. Admittedly, it’s difficult to tell when all we have are a few photos and a spec sheet, but these are the watches I’m most excited to see in the metal. These are our 10 favorite everyday watches from Baselworld 2019. Read More
Why should you care about Grand Seiko? I’ll give you two pretty good reasons: first, its modern watches remain some of the most affordable options out there while still being beloved by watch enthusiasts; second, vintage Grand Seiko remains one of the last undervalued brands in vintage watches (in the West at least), as the vintage watch boom has meant skyrocketing prices for almost all Swiss brands. Read More
A look at the German watchmaker that’s mastering Bauhaus. Read More
The best dive watches under 40mm. Read More
Trying to decide between two greats from the Tudor Black Bay collection. Read More
5 great everyday options from SIHH 2019. Read More
Cartier has revived the Santos in style. Here’s a look at the history of the “first men’s wristwatch.” Read More
Building a collection with one watch for every complication. Read More
The Rolex Paul Newman Daytona had another record-breaking year in 2018. Here’s what happened in the fall auctions. Read More