Welcome to our blog for vintage watches!

Here, we continuously introduce important and fascinating timepieces and their stories as well as interesting topics from the world of horology.

The Memovox Polaris II by Jaeger-leCoultre – A rarity from the seventies held in high regard

The manufacture that was founded and is still housed in the Vallée de Joux has created a number of brilliant timepieces throughout the decades. Among these, the ingenious models from the Memovox collection (lat. Memoria for “Memory” and vox for “voice”) stand out. The first wristwatch with an alarm function was released by Jaeger-leCoultre in 1951 and in 1956, the manufacture led the market when they launched the Memvox Automatic – the first self-winding wristwatch in the world with an alarm function. This marked another cornerstone in the history of the successful Swiss watchmaking company.

A spectacular version of this automatic watch is the Memovox Polaris II with its typical seventies charm. This watch houses the automatic movement caliber 916 and a hand-wound alarm function. This movement features the legendary high-frequency caliber with a balance wheel that alterates 28’000 times an hour and revolutionized the entire watch industry at the time. Between 1970 and 1972 just a few more than 1000 pieces were made. This watch exists in three colour variations, of which the depicted grey version is especially rare. This particular model also displays the letters “HPG” on the dial, which stands for “High Precision Guarantee” and indicates that this is one of the few of the Polaris II watches that was exclusively made for the American market.

The Omega Speedmaster „Missions Collection“

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we are presenting some rare Speedmasters from the Omega Missions Collection from 1997, which paid hommage to the most well-known American space flights on the 40th birthday of the Speedmaster. These and other rarities related to the Moon landing can be found in our new vintage lounge THE WATCH COLLECTOR at Neugasse 26 in Zug.

The Omega Speedmaster Gemini V: Paving the way for the moon landing

This Speedmaster pays tribute to that space mission carried out by L.Gordon Cooper and Charles “Pete” Conrad from the 21st till the 29th of August 1965.

This mission was vital for the moon landing that was yet to happen some years later, as it aimed to test new fuel cells, run experiments and show that astronauts could survive for the duration needed in order to fly to the moon and back – which was eight days. The Gemini 5 doubled the space-flight record of the Gemini 4 mission to these eight days, proving to be a success.

This was the first NASA mission to have an insignia patch, which was designed by the astronauts themselves. The insignia features a Conestoga wagon, the mission designation (“Gemini 5”) and the astronauts names. On the patches worn by Cooper and Conrad a thin piece of hastily-added cloth was added with the inscription “8 Days or Bust.” This detail of the insignia was objected by NASA, as it was felt to but too much emphasis on the length of the mission and not on the other experiments.

The Omega Speedmaster Gemini VII: A long-duration mission

With the long-duration Gemini 7 mission, NASA was again investigating the effects of spending longer periods of time in space on the human body. This Omega Speedmaster Gemini VII from the Missions Collection pays tribute to that record-setting spaceflight that lasted 14 days and made a total of 206 orbits.

The astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell were in space for double the time that anyone had been there until that point. The insignia of the mission, which can be seen on the dial of the Speedmaster in the image above, features an Olympic torch, portraying the marathon-like length of the trip.

Apart from the outstanding achievements of Gemini 7, which also included being the passive target for the first crewed space rendezvous performed by Gemini 6A, this mission involved learning from previous flights and tackling a multitude of more “everyday” problems of long-duration space flight, such as waste stowage. Also, studies were carried out on nutrition in space and doctors observed the effects of being suited and unsuited on the astronauts. Further, both astronauts worked and slept at the same time in a rhythm that matched the working hours of the prime shift ground crews.

The Omega Speedmaster Gemini X: Space Rendezvous

This Omega Speedmaster Gemini X from the Missions Collection pays tribute to the space mission carried out between the 18th and 21st of July 1966 by Michael Collins and John W. Young. This mission was designed to achieve rendezvous in space, in which two space crafts arrive at the same orbit at a very close distance, as well as to successfully dock and carry out extravehicular activity.

The Gemini 10 first docked with the Agena booster in low orbit and then rendezvoused with the deserted Agena left over from the aborted Gemini 8 flight, proving the ability to rendezvous with a passive object. During this mission, Collins spacewalked to the dormant Agena, making him the first person to spacewalk to another spacecraft in orbit. During this walk, his Hasselblad camera drifted away in space, so he was unable to take photos of this legendary spacewalk. This mission was also the first time that the Agena would fire its own rocket, allowing the astronauts to reach higher orbits.

The Omega Speedmaster Apollo IX: Mother ship and lunar module

This Apollo IX model commemorates the mission carried out between 3 and 13 March 1969 by James A.McDivitt, David R. Scott and Russel L. Schweickart.

Apollo 9 was the third crewed mission in the United States Apollo program and the first flight of the full Apollo spacecraft which included the two principle components: the command and service module (CSM), i.e. the mother ship, and the Lunar Module (LM). The mission was carried out to show that the crew could fly the Lunar Module independently and then dock it with the CSM again, as would be required tor the first crewed lunar landing 50 years ago.

This watch is truly out of this world!

The Omega Speedmastr Apollo XIII: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

“Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” This famous phrase and its misquote “Houston, we have a problem”, made famous by the 1995 film Apollo 13, are used today when an unforeseen problem arises.

This Omega Speedmaster Apollo XIII from the Missions Collection is dedicated to that one-of-a-kind Apollo space mission in which indeed some unforeseen trouble arose. Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise were meant to land on the moon in this endeavor that was lanched on April 11, 1970. About 56 hours after starting and 300’000 kilometers away from earth, an oxygen tank in the service module exploded. Using a great amount of technical improvisation and know-how, the crew managed to loop around the moon and make it safely back to earth on April 17, 1970. It was the only Apollo flight that had to be aborted prematurely, but also made a fabulous record: The three astronauts on board were the first to be the farthest away from earth, a whopping 401’056 kilometers!

The emblem that is engraved on this Speedmaster symbolizes how the Apollo missions brought knowledge to mankind, hence the phrase in Latin “Ex Luna, Scientia“ meaning “From the Moon, knowledge”. A beautiful watch with an explosive story.

The Omega Speedmaster Skylab I: 11,5 Million Miles

This Omega Speedmaster Skylab I from the Missions Collection commemorates the first manned mission that rendezvoused with the Skylab space station on the fifth orbit. Skylab was the first space station launched by NASA and a very important precursor for International Space Station. During its launch on May 14, 1973, the station lost its sun shade and one of its main solar panels.

The Skylab I mission carrying the astronauts Charles Conrad, Joseph P. Kerwin and Paul J. Weitz was carried out between May 25 and June 22, 1973. After first making substantial repairs to Skylab, including deploying a parasol sunshade to cool the inside temperatures, the crew conducted solar astronomy, earth resources and medical experiments. The mission travelled a total of 11.5 million miles and doubled the previous length of time in space. The mission’s emblem featured on the dial of this rare Omega wrist watch includes a depiction of the famous orbital space station.

The Omega Seamaster Chronograph Darth Vader: Star Wars fans beware!

An Omega in 47.3 milimetres for true enthusiasts! The legendary Seamaster Chronograph Darth Vader features an angular, helmet-like case and is one of the most well-known Omega watches of the seventies. Like all other Seamasters from this generation, the Darth Vader houses the manufacturer’s own hand-wound mechanical movement: the calibre 861.

This epically designed timepiece features hour, minute and second hands behind a non-reflective mineral glass. Another impressive feature is the two-piece construction of the case with its covered bracelet attachments. The stainless-steel watch movement is built into a spherical plate that is attached to the outer case via an o-ring. This increases the shock resistance and protects the watch’s movement. The outer surfaces of the case have a scratch-resistant protective layer that was applied using wolfram treatment for hardening. In addition, the case was coloured black by employing the physical vapor deposition method. These – at the time revolutionary – ideas already made the Darth Vader an object of desire the day it was put on the market.

This Seamaster Star Wars family is completed by two silver-grey models, one of which is known as the ‘Anakin Skywalker’. All three of these rarities can be found in our showcase at THE WATCH COLLECTOR.

The Omega Memomatic: for punctual watch enthusiasts

Omega watches from the 70s are much sought-after by collectors. Often, the focus is on the Speedmaster models or some of the diving watches. However, there are other rarities that are well-known by passionate collectors and definitely worth taking a closer look at.

A good example here is the Omega Memomatic from the Seamaster family. The watch was first launched in the early 70s and still remains true eye candy thanks to its robust design. It was produced in four different versions and in a total of around 35’000 pieces. The constructor of this timepiece, Raoul- Henri Erard, was the mind behind the caliber 980. This movement was a world novelty for alarm watches at the time, because it contained only one barrel, while still ensuring that the watch functioned accurately. To set the alarm off once, only one turn of the barrel is needed. After one hour of wearing the watch, the automatic winding movement produces enough power for the alarm to be set off again. If the alarm is needed before that, it is necessary to wind the watch manually by the crown. Another world debut of this watch was that it allowed for the alarm to be set precisely to the minute. For this reason, there are two discs on the dial, one with a triangle to set the hours, the other one with two parallel lines to set the minutes. This feature also gives the watch its distinguished and chic look.

Because the Memomatic belongs to the Seamaster family, it has a waterproof case and can withstand a pressure of 30 bar. Because of the waterproof casing, however, the alarm is not very loud. This is why the watch was originally advertised as a ‘reminder watch rather than an alarm watch to wake up to in the morning. To quote the original Omega commercial: «For although it rings like a miniature alarm clock, it rings discreetly to remind you of your next appointment – until you shut it off with a push-button control. So when it happens during a meeting your colleagues won’t fall out of their chairs. They will, on the other hand, begin to see you as a man to whom the minutes count. »