Saturday, May 19, 2018

Two Under the Radar Collectables: Bulova Spaceview and Borel Cocktail Watch

You could add a new watch to your collection daily and not even scratch the surface of the watch universe. You could probably even specialize in moonphase or GMT and still have more watches than would make an octopus happy.

Which makes trying to decide what to add to your collection a sometimes impossible decision.

One way to make sense of the splendor of choice is to pursue watches that aren’t being made anymore, fragments of history and engineering that travel into a more distant past with every passing year. And while there are also nearly countless vintage watches you could buy, a few stand out,making you stand up and proclaim, “They’re not making those anymore.”

The Borel Cocktail watch and the Bulova Spaceview are two affordable, visually striking watches that belong in every collection.

Borel Cocktail watch: kaleidoscope and cool.
Borel Cocktail watches pop up regularly on eBay, Chrono24, and other sites for between $100 and $800. They come in men’s and women’s sizes, so among other things, this vintage watch makes a great couples’ watch. While most watches can be described with a picture and a handful of words, you have to see a video of the Borel Cocktail watch to appreciate it’s singular and innovative beauty. The watch’s rotating, kaleidoscopic dial looks like something that might have been used to hypnotize the villain in a 1960’s James Bond movie. Once you start looking, you won’t want to (or perhaps be unable to) pull your eyes away from this watch. These hand-wound watches, designed by Ernest Borel and manufactured between about 1958 and 1980 are mostly 17 jewels, and have clear casebacks. You’ll find many designs and styles—each is great fun.

The Spaceview makes you feel like you've
stepped back in time.
The Bulova Spaceview, costing between about $350 and $1,000 is another marvel from a bygone era that must not only be seen, but heard to be appreciated. The Spaceview was a precursor to quartz watches, but unlike the sterile sameness of many quartz watches, especially those of the dread 1970’s quartz revolution, with their monotonous, lifeless seconds hand, the Spaceview’s seconds hand glides smoothly around the dial as it hums to you. Yes, it hums. The watch hums because it’s regulated by a visible tuning fork. Looking much like a machine from the future, the tuning fork, along with resistors and other electronics that today have been miniaturized a thousand fold, stands out as an example of technology as art. First manufactured in 1952, through 1977 the Spaceview achieved an unparalleled accuracy in its decades of two seconds a day. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t said, “wow,” when they see this watch.

Get them now while you can. They’re not making these two watches anymore.

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