A genuine, vintage, immaculate, Swiss movement and German made watch at RM350? So affordable, and my Helbros is dearly adorable – in my eyes. I wear the watch daily to fit my office attire. Good time-keeping and more than 40 hours power reserve. Not bad for an old gadget! I believe this is a result of the Swiss ETA movement, finished product by the German. Get another one, Swiss Made is my target.
I always accompany my wife to go to Chow Kit Road (now, known as Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman) once or twice a month to buy some wet goods at the Pasar Chow Kit. One fine Sunday, as my wife busy at the Pasar, I take a walk along the Jalan TAR – visiting the watch retailers there. Really, it reminds me of my first watch – the Citizen digital quartz of the 70s. I went to the shop (near the Bata store), the business still exists and selling Japanese watches with one Swiss brand on display – Titoni. Taking my own sweet Sunday time, I walk to a store across the Kamdar Store and I found a small display of vintage watch. There are about ten watches, mixed of Japanese and Swiss watches. One ‘ugly’ looking vintage interests me. A 1960s automatic Titus! The dial is unique with date window between 4 and 5 hour marker. Champagne colour.
I ask the seller, “Taukeh, is this a good working vintage?” He smiled at me and gave me a simple answer. “Jalan bagus punya, enjin baru servis! Swiss punya jam lama. Saya sendiri servis. (In English: working, the movement just serviced. Old Swiss watch. I service the watch my own)”. Yeah, I realize that he is wearing a watchmaker loupe on his head. I never asked his name, but we become friend until today. I just call him Taukeh. He is one of a few humble watch repairers that friendly to share knowledge about watches. Back to the vintage Titus, it’s a deal. I bought the watch and get nice leather replacement strap from him. You know how much all together? RM220, a good bargain! So now I have two watches with Swiss steel horses. I wear the Titus as an alternate to my Helbros on working day. Both working fine.
The Titus and Helbros of the 60s
Hey, am I going to be a vintage watch collector or a watch collector? I guess I have a few with me now - my Zodiac, Seiko Diver, Titus, and Helbros. Two dress watches with leather strap, two sporty looking watches, German, Japan and Swiss. Functional wise, these are basic timekeeper with day and date calendar. If wearing one watch a day, I am short of three! Whats next?
I happened to know a friend who has same passion about watches. Not new, but an avid collector, a filthy rich guy. One fine day he recognized me wearing different watches when we bump to each other. First, I didn’t realize that he is a collector. After sharing few “teh tarik” sessions with him, he explained to me about Rolex. He got five Rolex signature watches – Rolex Precision 6694, Rolex President, Rolex Yacht-master, Rolex Explorer II, and Rolex Submariner. Wow! But I noticed that his daily wear is the Submariner. Similar look to my Seiko diver! I found through articles in the Internet, the Rolex Submariner diver is the most “legally copied” watch design. True enough, we can find many brands with similar look. For me, it is a very masculine looking wrist watch. I made the right decision for my first mechy!
As my quest continues, I revisited Mr. Lee at Rainbow watch, Ampang Park. So happened, I got extra bucks in my pocket. It was off day. You guest what? I bought a Blue Submariner - a brand new Japanese Orient diver. Now I have a Japanese twin – Seiko and Orient Submariner. Hence, with another purchase I become friend to Mr. Lee – until today, he is my best syifu. Comparing the Seiko and Orient, the dial setting of the Orient looks more like Rolex. Except the measurement and bevelled edge of the case. The bracelet links look almost the same, except for the clasp. The hands, the marker, and the date aperture look the same. The vast different, definitely the price lah! I can’t afford the Rolex Submariner. But at least I got two Japanese Submariners! Huhhu…
The Japanese Submariners: Orient and Rolex.
Stop buying. Can I? All my watches are ticking, showing me their superiority and accuracy. Still, they are watches with basic features. What will be my next toy then? A chronograph, I guess? Budget!!! tick, tick, tick...when?