Leonardo di Caprio is hot favorite for the Best Actor Oscar for The Revenant – his powerful portrayal of a man abandoned and left to die hundreds of miles from camp in sub-zero temperatures after being mauled by a grizzly. Evading Red Indians, living off berries, twigs and raw buffalo liver, he crawls on his belly, shuffles, limps and eventually strides home, wrapped in a bear pelt, driven by thoughts of revenge.
If the movie were made for watch collectors, his callous partners would steal the watch right off his wrist, with nothing but a patch of creamy pale flesh to show where once the watch was proudly worn.
There are some watches you can live without, but what watch in your collection would compel you to crawl on your belly for 200 miles across treacherous terrain, no shower, no shave, no Netflix, to burst through the swing doors of the grimy town bar and, with a stainless steely glint in your eye, declare to all of those who stare back at you in startled disbelief: ‘I’ve come for ma timepiece’.
Now some people have commented that the watches presented here are not suitable for an outward bound trip such as this. But that is missing the point. The idea behind this selection is that the watches are so collectible and so treasured that you would apparently come back from the dead a la The Revenant, in order to get your watch back. Here then are some serious possibilities:
Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref 2499
Introduced in 1951, Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar Chronograph (model reference No. 2499) was made from that year up until 1985. The 2499 combines a perpetual calendar indicating the correct day, date, and month that automatically adjusts for long and short months with a chronograph, or stopwatch. The watch features a swan-neck-shaped regulator buffed to a mirror polish, the dials use champlevé enamel, an indelible and costly technique in which the dial’s surface is engraved, filled with powdered enamel, and baked in a high-temperature oven for lasting permanence. The quality is certified by the independent Seal of Geneva stamp found on every watch. Only 349 were made, so as you can imagine, it’s worth many bear pelts.
Rolex Daytona Cosmograph, “Paul Newman”
The loss of this Rolex classic is enough to ensure many days of venomous spitting and cursing as you grunt and groan your way back home. The Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona chronograph refers to a multicolor, Art Deco-inspired dial fitted on Rolex’s Cosmograph Daytona chronograph watches sold from the mid-1960s through to the mid-1980s. It’s believed that dealers and collectors coined the watch’s name after spotting one on the actor’s wrist in the 1980s. In fact his wife, actress Joan Woodward bought it for him as a gift, and as it happens, the watch wasn’t selling too well until Paul Newman starting wearing it, then everyone wanted one. Vintage Daytona’s are great for everyday wear due to their strong, water-resistant cases and robust movements, but their collectability is all down to the dial. On the 6239, 6262, 6263, and 6265 the Paul Newman-style dials feature three sunken sub-dials at three, six, and nine o’clock, with stylized, Art Deco numerals for the seconds and chronograph indications. Some have a red track encircling the outer circumference of the dial, sunk relative to its center region. The different levels create a superb 3-D effect. Once you lose a Daytona, you’ll go a long way to get it back.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak A Series
The legend has it that watch designer Gerald Genta designed it in one night, inspired by the heavy bolts he saw securing a diver’s helmet. Launched in 1972 when cheap quartz watches were heavily on trend, competitors were convinced that the Royal Oak, priced at CHF 3,650, comparable to a gold watch, would prove disastrous to Audemars Piguet. At first it seemed the naysayers were right. It took three years for the first 800 examples to sell; 39 mm in diameter, the “Jumbo” was unusually large for its day. But in today’s more enlightened times, the first 2000 watches, marked with a letter A on their case-backs, are the most collectible. They case is made from two pieces of solid steel. Eight exposed, white-gold hex nuts on the signature octagonal bezel, extending through the case, secure the movement. White-gold screws are then inserted into the nuts from the case-back to compress the case, providing outstanding shock and water resistance. If someone steals you’re Series A, they’re on your A- list for revenge.
OMEGA Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon
This is the Speedmaster that celebrates 45 years since the lunar moon landing, and not only that, it has George Daniels co-axial escapement fitted in it. Are you going to let the invention of the greatest horologist of our era, wrapped up in a legendary limited edition watch disappear down the mountainside? The hell you are.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive
It’s probably the best watch SEIKO make. It is superlative in every sense. The Spring Drive movement took nearly 20 years to perfect, and is a truly remarkable mechanism that combines the best of mechanical movements with the ever reliable accuracy of quartz regulation powered by a traditional mainspring. There are sporty or dress Grand Seiko watches fitted with a Spring Drive movement. Don’t give up on it, because it won’t give up on you.
Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Platinum
If you’re insane enough to bring a watch of this caliber on an outward bound adventure foraging for wolf skins, perhaps you deserve to lose it, but if it is wrenched from your wrist, get on your belly and crawl. Even a pre-owned one is around $75,000 and they can easily go for anything up to $225,000. Vacheron Constantin’s elegant, tonneau-shaped case has become one of the Geneva-based watchmaker’s most distinguishing features since its introduction in 1912. The Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon platinum timepiece is part of the Collection Excellence Platine, which pays homage to the powerful metal and bears the platinum mark ‘Pt950’. The Malte Tourbillon has a platinum case, dial, folding buckle and platinum thread and comes on a blue saddle-stitched alligator strap.
A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon
The original Datograph is a true modern classic and one of the reasons Lange has become so hot with collectors. The new version with the black dial just unveiled at SIHH 2016 features a Datograph, a Perpetual Calendar and a Tourbillon for good measure. The movement comprises 729 pieces, and pushed A. Lange & Sohne’s watchmakers to the limits of their ability. Surely a watch for which it is worth coming back from the dead.