When it comes to vintage collecting of anything I guess we are all on the hunt for that ultimate find – an untouched example, never used or having ever seen daylight from the date of purchase and so still 100% brand new and pristine.
In classic cars this is often referred to as a ‘barn find’ – a vintage or classic car that was locked away in a garage or barn and never used or driven for decades, still maybe with delivery mileage and in doing so retaining all it’s original features and exactly as it left the factory. These cars are hugely sought after as they are the ultimate representation of the factory car of that era, a time very different to today and long long ago.
In watch terms then the quivalent then must be a ‘box find’. A watch that was bought new and then left in it’s box unworn and never touched since the day of purchase. These watches do exist, but they are very few and far between – let’s face it, not many people ever buy a watch and never ever wear it!
This month I was fortunate enough to acquire my first such watch and being one of my favourite models of all time the Omega Speedmaster.
By all accounts the original owner was a very serious and big watch collector from the 60’s onwards. He bought Rolex, Patek, Omega and many of the major brands models throughout this time. Most of the watches were left in their boxes and never touched. When he passed away recently his family found his loft was filled from floor to ceiling with watch boxes that had never seen the light of day.
One of the watches I was able to purchase from the family was a 1971 Omega Speedmaster. I was told the watch had never been worn, still had the original model hang tag around the bracelet and had sat in the box on the watch display holder for 43 years…
To be fair you hear these stories quite a lot and when you receive the watch it has obviously been worn and has the scratches and wear marks to prove it! So you never quite believe it until you see it.
I have been a big fan of the Omega Speedmaster for many years and have owned many vintage pieces of various models, some beautiful pieces in excellent original condition from the first owners….but nothing quite prepares you for seeing a vintage watch over 40 years old that is literally brand new, unworn, untouched and never been out of it’s box. In this case seeing is truly believing.
The watch is truly incredible.
It does not have a single mark on the case, crystal or bracelet at all. It is exactly as it left the factory and still has the original red dot case back seal in place to show it has never been opened. For me it is a superb reference point of exactly how an Omega Speedmaster in 1971 left the factory – the brushed case sides are perfect, the highly polished lug tops mirror like and the detail in the case back outstanding. The dial and hands are all mint with the lume having gone a uniformed lovely deep yellow colour. The bracelet is tight and unmarked and the clasp is perfect with the lovely factory brushed finish.
Amazingly the watch is fully functional and still keeping excellent time. I guess I was the first person to wind it after 43 years.
The icing on the cake for me was seeing the suede watch holder inside the inner box that the watch had sat on for over 40 years. In that time it had taken the shape of the bracelet and left a perfect bracelet fossil like imprint on the holder – other watch nerds will understand how cool that is…the rest of you will still think we are nuts!
I have requested an extract of the Archives from Omega in Switzerland and they confirm that the watch came to the UK in 1971. If it had been 1972 then this truly would have been my grail watch in that it would have also been my birth year, so close but not quite.
The only sad thing is that my photographs will never really do the piece justice – it is much better in the flesh than my photography skills. But I have taken as many as I can to share with you all anyway.
Hope you like them…enjoy!
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