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2020 Might be the year I finally pull the trigger on a grail watch. There's two contenders currently vying for the honors: the Girard Perregaux World Time Financial Chrono & the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969. I'd welcome any thoughts or opinions on the two pieces. Wich would you choose? ...
 

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GP a million times over.

Mostly because I don't like that Zenith at all, so maybe my opinion isn't that valuable. :)
 

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That specific GP can be had for a song prepared, and if you like the design it’s a great bargain!
I personally don’t really like it and believe the design doesn’t age very well, but it’s all personal preferences. Regarding the Zenith, I suggest you look at the other El Primero models as there are A LOT of options, different color schemes and some models with a little more interesting features/movement/design for fairly similar prices on the grey market.
 

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I would consider a world timer if I travelled extensively and was going to use the function. If not...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That specific GP can be had for a song prepared, and if you like the design it’s a great bargain!
I personally don’t really like it and believe the design doesn’t age very well, but it’s all personal preferences. Regarding the Zenith, I suggest you look at the other El Primero models as there are A LOT of options, different color schemes and some models with a little more interesting features/movement/design for fairly similar prices on the grey market.
Girard Perregaux is a brand that's only recently appeared on my radar. Any idea how it stacks up against that legendary El Primero chronograph movement? 3rd possible contender is the latest iteration of the Seamaster (Calibre 8800). I've watched many of the youtube watch gurus tearfully admit that it trounces the new Subby in head-to-head competition. Thoughts? ...
 

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Girard Perregaux is a brand that's only recently appeared on my radar. Any idea how it stacks up against that legendary El Primero chronograph movement? 3rd possible contender is the latest iteration of the Seamaster (Calibre 8800). I've watched many of the youtube watch gurus tearfully admit that it trounces the new Subby in head-to-head competition. Thoughts? ...
Well, this is going to be purely personal opinion so you are welcome to argue with it and disagree, but I like those topics, so here it is:
I firmly believe that watch pricing is based on brand positioning and a combination of consensual design approval + availability. Meaning that a submariner ceramic vs the new seamaster can be compared head to head even though they are on different price points. Do I think the Seamaster is a better watch? Yes. Would I buy one, definitely yes over a ceramic sub, but I would rather buy an older 14060M 2 liner sub non ceramic that is technically inferior and a little more expensive just because I like the design language a bit more and the thinness/small diameter ratio.

Now, where I think is a good place to look, is exactly what you did with the GP. It doesn't have a consensual design. Meaning that the value goes down drastically, which many see as a bad thing, well, I see it as a great thing for a collector! If you like the design, there are some extraordinary watches that are technically impressive and fantastic that can be had for a really good price.

Then there is the history/heritage theme, with the El Primero movement for instance. I do quite like the idea of historically important timepieces, I have a Speedy myself and the heritage is part of the reason. However, there have been a lot of advancement in watchmaking in the past 40 years and great technology, movements and materials can make a difference for your own enjoyment too. This is a matter of personal preference, as you will likely trade an easily serviceable legendary movement for a more complex (i.e. more expensive to service) movement with a few cool features. That's up to you to see what speaks to you. I personally do not mind heavily modified off-the-shelf movements vs in-house, as in-house doesn't necessarily bring something significant to the table in terms of originality and can be used as a gimmick to increase the price tag. But to each his own, and some in-house movements are really worth it.

If I deduce that your target price is close to $5k based on the watches you're interested in, try putting some of your criteria in the chrono24 search engine and see what you like. It will push you to research different models, google reviews and check instagram for pictures. I think we've all been there!

All the best,
A.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, this is going to be purely personal opinion so you are welcome to argue with it and disagree, but I like those topics, so here it is:
I firmly believe that watch pricing is based on brand positioning and a combination of consensual design approval + availability. Meaning that a submariner ceramic vs the new seamaster can be compared head to head even though they are on different price points. Do I think the Seamaster is a better watch? Yes. Would I buy one, definitely yes over a ceramic sub, but I would rather buy an older 14060M 2 liner sub non ceramic that is technically inferior and a little more expensive just because I like the design language a bit more and the thinness/small diameter ratio.

Now, where I think is a good place to look, is exactly what you did with the GP. It doesn't have a consensual design. Meaning that the value goes down drastically, which many see as a bad thing, well, I see it as a great thing for a collector! If you like the design, there are some extraordinary watches that are technically impressive and fantastic that can be had for a really good price.

Then there is the history/heritage theme, with the El Primero movement for instance. I do quite like the idea of historically important timepieces, I have a Speedy myself and the heritage is part of the reason. However, there have been a lot of advancement in watchmaking in the past 40 years and great technology, movements and materials can make a difference for your own enjoyment too. This is a matter of personal preference, as you will likely trade an easily serviceable legendary movement for a more complex (i.e. more expensive to service) movement with a few cool features. That's up to you to see what speaks to you. I personally do not mind heavily modified off-the-shelf movements vs in-house, as in-house doesn't necessarily bring something significant to the table in terms of originality and can be used as a gimmick to increase the price tag. But to each his own, and some in-house movements are really worth it.

If I deduce that your target price is close to $5k based on the watches you're interested in, try putting some of your criteria in the chrono24 search engine and see what you like. It will push you to research different models, google reviews and check instagram for pictures. I think we've all been there!

All the best,
A.
Excellent response! Really appreciate your thoughtfulness! I'm leaning slightly towards the El Primero -- and as you've suggested, the horological significance of the movement has more than a little to do with it. The new Seamaster really is impressive tho. With a sticker price of 5k and some pre-owned pieces below 4K, it's really become something of a yardstick for me in re-thinking certain brand valuations. Would I really shell out $3,600 for Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight if I could score a like-new Seamaster Calibre 8800 for just slightly more??? And yes, you're spot on about the 5K. I'd be curious to know your personal pick/recommendation in that price range for a Swiss sports watch with some pedigree? ...
 

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Excellent response! Really appreciate your thoughtfulness! I'm leaning slightly towards the El Primero -- and as you've suggested, the horological significance of the movement has more than a little to do with it. The new Seamaster really is impressive tho. With a sticker price of 5k and some pre-owned pieces below 4K, it's really become something of a yardstick for me in re-thinking certain brand valuations. Would I really shell out $3,600 for Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight if I could score a like-new Seamaster Calibre 8800 for just slightly more??? And yes, you're spot on about the 5K. I'd be curious to know your personal pick/recommendation in that price range for a Swiss sports watch with some pedigree? ...
This might be the most overcrowded segment in watchmaking today, so it is very difficult to give proper advice. Considering you want something anywhere between 38mm to 44mm, with at least 5bar WR, bracelet or leather, and either no complication or a chronograph or a gmt/dual time, you can look for:
- the usual suspects: the original Speedmaster (I love mine, would never sell it) or any of its variations (the grey side of the moon can be had for close to $6k and is an incredible watch, albeit thick), a Rolex Datejust or Explorer 1, a vintage explorer 2 in 40mm;
- something more bold: IWC ingenieur 3239, Piaget Polo S, BP ff bathyscaphe 38mm (price is maybe just above $6k), or Ulysse Nardin Marine watches (very unique styling, I think they are pretty cool and great quality of finishing for the price), IWC Pilot chronograph flyback saint exupery (it’s a limited edition and looks awesome).


There are thousands of other options of course, but I think those are worth the price/quality.

Now, my ultimate pick in this category would be this:
Breguet type XXI 3810st.
Excellent heritage, flyback chronograph, steel bracelet or leather strap, versatile, beautiful, it has it all! And it is an incredible bargain on the secondary market right now.

I hope this helps! Take your time, there are many watches to discover.
 

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Strictly to your OP, I would pick the Zenith hands down - mainly for the calibre and its role in watchmaking history. Also because I prefer the aesthetic even though I don't like open heart dials as a rule. Movements in oversized cases (like for the GP) are also a pet peeve.

Deviating from your OP, I would echo the suggestion to look at other Zenith options, particularly the most classic dial option (closed). I'd also look at the Breguet chronos suggested above, and consider Speedmasters with the original Lemania chrono movement as well since you seem to like chronos in particular. If the budget can be stretched a little, I'd also consider second hand IWC chronos (modded 7750s), or a Habring chrono. Those are some of the finest examples of 7750-based chronos, and the 7750 is an important movement as well.
 

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Well, you did ask...

Any open heart design for me is immediately dismissed, so the Zenith, while I like and have owned many of their watches, is out.

The GP is "busy", but if the only options are the two, that gets my nod.
 

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Of the 2...the GP...it’s a beautiful watch. I’m not a big fan of the open heart El Primero design. But I do love the El Primero 1969...the 38mm version is my next purchase.
 
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Both are okay watches but for your first grail watch.... I'd recommend something a little more classic and tasteful. If you wear a suit more then a solid 3 hander and a traditional something if not. GP Laureato would be a great example at that price and great all arounder. Bathyscaphe in 38mm with a leather strap even. I just don't like either of those but if they speak to you then my opinion should not carry any material weight.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This might be the most overcrowded segment in watchmaking today, so it is very difficult to give proper advice. Considering you want something anywhere between 38mm to 44mm, with at least 5bar WR, bracelet or leather, and either no complication or a chronograph or a gmt/dual time, you can look for:
- the usual suspects: the original Speedmaster (I love mine, would never sell it) or any of its variations (the grey side of the moon can be had for close to $6k and is an incredible watch, albeit thick), a Rolex Datejust or Explorer 1, a vintage explorer 2 in 40mm;
- something more bold: IWC ingenieur 3239, Piaget Polo S, BP ff bathyscaphe 38mm (price is maybe just above $6k), or Ulysse Nardin Marine watches (very unique styling, I think they are pretty cool and great quality of finishing for the price), IWC Pilot chronograph flyback saint exupery (it’s a limited edition and looks awesome).


There are thousands of other options of course, but I think those are worth the price/quality.

Now, my ultimate pick in this category would be this:
Breguet type XXI 3810st.
Excellent heritage, flyback chronograph, steel bracelet or leather strap, versatile, beautiful, it has it all! And it is an incredible bargain on the secondary market right now.

I hope this helps! Take your time, there are many watches to discover.

Thanks again for the info! Quite a bit to chew on. Lessee ... Not at all familiar with Breguet but definitely gonna do some lookin' into. At first glance I'm more than a bit intrigued by the XXII 3880. Reminds me of a Tudor Fastrider Chrono I came very close to pulling the trigger on a couple years back (the Breguet is definitely much nicer tho). And that Classique Complications 3795! If only I had an extra 179K collecting dust; I'd blow right by the A. Lange & Son and Patek displays. Look up "Insanely expensive Swiss luxury watch" in the ol' Britannica and that's the pic I'd expect to see ...

I'd absolutely love to have a Speedy in my collection. A grey side of the moon for around 6K is definitely worth looking into. I've also been checking out some Ulysse Nardin marine & Rolex Date Just pieces as well (great minds think alike) -- not to mention some select Breitlings (Navitimer?) and a pre-owned Jaeger-Lecoulter AMVOX or 2 (pushing it). To complicate things even further, that new Oris ProPilot Calibre 115 Titanium Skeleton is lookin' rather interesting at around 5K -- and I don't even like skeleton dials!!! ... Too many choices -- that's half the fun tho! ...

I'd like to toss one more thing out there for any thoughts or comments it might shake loose -- Schwarz Eteinne anyone??? A brand that boasts some interesting (if pricey) pieces but gets about as much attention as the chubby girl at the dance ...
 

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Strictly to your OP, I would pick the Zenith hands down - mainly for the calibre and its role in watchmaking history. Also because I prefer the aesthetic even though I don't like open heart dials as a rule. Movements in oversized cases (like for the GP) are also a pet peeve.

Deviating from your OP, I would echo the suggestion to look at other Zenith options, particularly the most classic dial option (closed). I'd also look at the Breguet chronos suggested above, and consider Speedmasters with the original Lemania chrono movement as well since you seem to like chronos in particular. If the budget can be stretched a little, I'd also consider second hand IWC chronos (modded 7750s), or a Habring chrono. Those are some of the finest examples of 7750-based chronos, and the 7750 is an important movement as well.
Thanks for the suggestions! The Zenith El Primero is probaly the front runner at the moment, but as my handicapper old man would tell ya, he'd like to have a buck for everytime the favorite lost by a nose at the wire ...

While I love the ol' Valjoux 7750 (Who wouldn't love the movement that single-handedly saved mechanical watches?); horological significance & "personality" aside, I find it difficult to justify spending a wad of cash (at least for my wallet) on a modified version after picking up a NEW Revue-Thommen Airspeed 7750 Chrono for the princely sum of $600 (see pic). Am I being wrong-headed about his? I'm still very much a neophite so don't be afraid to hurt my feelings ...
 

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Both are okay watches but for your first grail watch.... I'd recommend something a little more classic and tasteful. If you wear a suit more then a solid 3 hander and a traditional something if not. GP Laureato would be a great example at that price and great all arounder. Bathyscaphe in 38mm with a leather strap even. I just don't like either of those but if they speak to you then my opinion should not carry any material weight.
I've got 3 custom-made suits hanging in the closet which I've "outgrown" since my Wall Street days. Living a more modest, bohemian lifestyle these days, you won't find me rockin' anything more formal than a Harley-Davidson leather bomber, T-shirt & pair of True Religion jeans. One of my rare horological peeves is the octagon-shaped case. The main reason (aside from lack of funds) I'll never own a Royal Oak. I'm afraid the Laureato just ain't my cup o' tea -- tho I appreciate the input ...
 

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what will you use the chrono feature on. I really loved my 3810 Breguet BUT I never used the stop watch function so I sold it and bought a VC Overseas.
No so much a matter of practicality as simply preferring the significance, asthetic & additional complication of the chrono ...
 

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Well, you did ask...

Any open heart design for me is immediately dismissed, so the Zenith, while I like and have owned many of their watches, is out.

The GP is "busy", but if the only options are the two, that gets my nod.
Thanks for weighing in! Any suggestions of your own in the 5K chrono/GMT/world time Swiss sports watch category? What's your personal pick amongst the Zenith line-up?
 
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