The one thing that you can always be sure of is that watch buyers’ tastes will always change. Collectors with very focused passion may remain loyal to one particular brand or style, but the general market moves in phases. A great example of this is the Rolex Bubbleback. In the 1990s these watches were the hottest ticket in horolgical circles and the 32mm watches were enthusiastically collected in multitude of variations. Prices skyrocketed as demand grew and now 20 years later the values are significantly lower and they are difficult for dealers to sell at any price. Why? Well, its largely due to size…it seems size really does matter! This is our guide to the oversize Omega calatravas.
Size Does Matter
There are of course connoisseurs of vintage watches who are unconcerned about the size of a watch; for them its all about the purity of the design. I can identify with this, as some of my favourite watches are Oysters from the 1950s and 1960s that have 34mm cases. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say or read quotes where the phrase “what a shame it’s so small” when appraising a vintage piece. Classic, elegant vintage aesthetic is often packaged in a watch that for today’s market is simply to diminutive. There are, however, exceptions to this rule…
Little Brother’s Big Brother
During the 1940s and 1950s the average gents watch size was around 32mm (remember the Bubblebacks?). This was the norm and it was almost a ‘badge of honour’ for manufacturers to make the smallest, most discreet watch possible following the era where converted pocket watches were worn on the wrist. There were, however, exceptions to the rule. Brands such as Rolex, Omega, Longines and other notable watchmakers produced very small numbers of large size watches that measured between 37-38mm that were often manufactured out of stainless steel. At the time, these watches must have been almost alien and I suspect would have been a lot less popular than the more common pieces that were 6mm smaller. To put this in context, if the average modern watch size is 40mm, this would have ben like wearing a 46mm watch. Massive, no doubt!
Perfect for Today
So a watch from the 1950s, with all the timeless attributes and aesthetics of the era in an oversize case – what’s not to love? We particularly love the watches of this size and era by Omega. Most commonly powered by the almost bomb-proof caliber 266 movement, these time only watches with prominent subsidiary seconds dial have become highly prized by collectors and dealers.
Three of a Kind
We have been fortunate to have owned a number of these over the past few years and we have identified three very distinct case versions. We have dubbed them the ‘Classic’, ‘Spider Leg’ and ‘Square’. These names are all derived from the lug shapes and how they sit against the case. Each has its own unique character, but they all have one thing in common…they’re big and beautiful.
The ‘Spider Leg’
These watches are, in our minds, one of the most versatile watches that the style conscious watch collector can own. Whatever the location or occasion the watch can be dressed up or down to suit the mood or the requirements. We would claim that the dress watch in general is competing with the sports watch for desirability over the past couple of years. On a vintage, distressed leather strap it works with jeans and a sweater for casual weekends or equally the watch can accessorise a formal suit if worn on a classy or saffiano strap. Want to wear it on steel? There can be nothing better that a vintage-esque ‘beads of rice’ bracelet with straight endlinks. Whatever your mood or style, these are watches for all occasions.