Originally Posted by ~ B ~
Hi Dino, actually two other modern VCs use the cal 1003. The Historiques 1955 and Coin watch. Both are reissues of past V&Cs. I am a huge fan of ultrathins and two of the most groundbreaking were the VC cal 1003 (1.64mm) also used as the AP 2003, and the JLC cal 839/849 (1.85mm). These were the only true ultrathin movements built in the last 50 years that worked reliably. I actually collect prime vintage examples of the cal 1003 and have 12 references to date. The one I wear the most is one I bought from a single owner who wore it for 40 years everyday, so you know that can handle daily life. Vintage VCs from my experience were clearly built better, even though they were simple watches, in the pre-conglomerate era. They cost 10 times more than a comparable Rolex in the 60s, so you can imagine the cost differential.
The Patek you mentioned is exquisite and I do agree it is far more interesting and well-priced than a comparable Calatrava. You definitely pay more for the Patek name but it does hold its value well over time. I have never been a fan of the brand myself (preferring VC and JLC) and the only Pateks in my collection were inherited, an old Nautilus and a vintage steel Calatrava which lives in a safe.
The Privee Collection Cartiers were certainly interesting watches. However, having owned many Cartiers over the last ten years, I have noticed their quality and service slipping (though only in Asia - London and Paris boutique experiences are still amazing), and their servicing costs go up every single year. I find this simply usurious and will not abide the practice as a matter of principle.
Funny you mention the TT1931, I just bought the Casa Fagliano edition last week to celebrate an occasion and am enamoured with it. It is the perfect Reverso in my opinion and distills the sporty nature of the original watch. The strap is nothing impressive though. As for Piaget, their gaudy designs that characterise the brand and the lacklustre finishing leave me unimpressed. I have examined pretty much their entire current output and still prefer my old Polo from the 90s, when they still had some elegance.
If you read the famous TZ review of the cal 1120 online, the author speaks of the agricultural finishing in some parts of the movement. At VC prices (I know it is still considered cheap for them) I find this unacceptable and would rather go for a similar piece from JLC, or indeed, from myself.
You are right that modern VC designs are quite staid. Only the Toledo from the Historiques collection impresses. In fact I considered acquiring the 1955 a month ago but after seeing it at the boutique felt the painted indices made it look ever so slightly... cheap. And the super small movement, which seems to typify modern day VC watches.
Yes, the 1955 escaped me and I never really liked the coin watch so its just not on my radar. I think our tastes and opinions (other than on the JLC 1931) may differ quite a bit. I am not really in love with most current VCs. I've tried the 1955 and the 1968, and thought both were very unimpressive and overpriced. One of the few of the Historique models I really like is the such as 1921 American (although I'm not sure how I feel about its movement). The Aronde is interesting but I don't think I like it enought that I would ever buy one. Overall, I'm just not in love with most modern VCs. These days their prices seem to overshadow and outweigh the quality of their items. As for the Toledo, I only like in its earlier handwound remake from the early 1990s when I believe it was just called the Carree. I don't care for the current version, I find it too clumsy and bulkie, and I don't care for its dial.
I think VC's vintage pieces are definitely under appreciated and under valued both in terms of quality and price. I also think many were more daring and beautiful in design, than what we see today. A friend of mine had a collection of more than 30 vintage VCs and each was really special, interesting in design, and incredibly high quality. My only issue with them is, although I'm not someone that feels I have to have a giant watch to follow the current watch market designs, some of the vintage models are a bit on the small side.
As for the Privee Cartiers, they are nothing like the standard models of the past 10 years. They are also more finely finished than their few higher quality non-ETA movment watches which were part of their mainstream collection. Each use incredibly high quality base movements from JLC, THA, F.Piguet, and Piaget, and then they are finished to Cartier's own standards. As for quality I would put them against any top brands. Lange and Patek are the only ones that are definitely still more finely finished. However, that still leaves them in very distinguished company. As for the cost of service on a basic time only piece, they are significantly less than Rolex or the high end brands. The few Cartier servicings on basic watches that my family has had done, ran about $450 (although the last was about 3 years ago). I don't think you can get a Rolex serviced for under $600.
Regarding Piaget, I think the 90s was a dark time for them. Clumsy designs that often were not memorable such as the Tanagra. I think the Polo of the 90s was interesting but I didn't see why it got that name as it had no relation to the original in terms of design. Although I don't own one, I do have a soft spot in my heart for some of their vintage dress watches with stone dials. Yes, there are some flashy and unwearable Piagets, but JLC, Zenith, Patek, VC, AP are not innocent of having produced some strange designs and/or goofy, blingy jeweled pieces. As for their quality, I think I disagree with you there. Again its another brand that from what I've seen produces pieces that are definitely on par with JLC, AP, VC. Patek may have finer finshing and IMHO, only Lange really finishes their pieces in a manor that is beautiful and well beyond the others. My friend who has had more than 30 VCs (most vintage), APs, a Lange Datograph, (not sure he has had a Patek) and currently has a tourbillion from and independent (and he has been to many of the watch factories) has a Piaget Altiplano with subdial for seconds at 10, on his short list. He is also of the opinion that they are every bit as good as any of the top Swiss brands. I'm not a watchmaker, but he practically could be. He can easily get into and explain some of the more technical issues about movements, that could easily put some seasoned collectors too sleep. He has also done quite a bit of writing about movements and watches.
As for the 1120, I am not that pleased with what VC has been doing with their versions. I think AP has done a much better job in terms of quality and finish of their version which is cal 2120. To be honest, although I am not really in love with AP's dress watches, I think their quality these days is a notch above many current VCs.
Well at least we can agree on the JLC 1931. Congrats on your latest acquisition! That's a watch that I think JLC really did an amazing job with. The strap doesn't matter to me, I could take it or leave it. The rest of the watch is ideal. I know some here find it small, but I find the Reverso case just loses some of its beauty and elegance, and becomes too thick and more sport watch when you get into the XGT cases. IMHO, at least on my wrist the 1931, looks and feels perfect. Congrats again, an excellent choice I hope that you will enjoy for many years.