Guille was kind enough to let us post his project on our site. Thank you for some amazing insight.
The Deep End.......Story of a Vintage Project......long... by Guille - October 9 2005
Disclaimer: This is a personal project. This watch will never be for sale and I don’t encourage anyone to do this. I am an Ad executive and do not work with watches, I’m just a collector.
12 months ago I sat in front of my computer admiring a photo of my all time watch holy grail…a 6152 Destro. Not a watch for mere mortals as only a couple of this are kown to exist. At that time the 1950 was on its way to become the hot watch. I looked at it, over and over and had to give credit to Panerai for respecting the vintage pieces and creating a contemporary piece. But it was not for me. The infamous “It who must not be named” watch was becoming hot too. And I looked at it again, and again, but for different reasons. I thought, I can surely change the dial on this watch and get a lot closer to the original. Well ended up not just being the dial….what a trip.
So I purchased an “It” watch and immediately was convinced that I couldn’t wear it, it had to change. I did much research on and off-line trying to find a watchmaker that would help me make a dial. Just about when I was about to drop off the project I came about a post of another modded vintage project. I made contact with a great guy in Germany who helped me getting started. But changing just the dial wouldn’t work. To have the right vintage look, I had to change on top of the dial, the hands, the crystal and the caseback.
Here’s a pic of the dissasembled watch, many of these pieces being permanently retired.
The crystal was replaced to a thick PersiGlass, the same type of acrylic used in watches of the period. The Saphire was gone.
The dial is a masterpiece. An exact round of Brass gets engraved first. No room for error. The grooves are applied with the same T material many of us love. The dial was acually finished in Italy by dial makers with “actual” experience with this type of work.
The hands are another great example of craftmanship. These are handmade from solid gold sheets and then applied with same luminous material as the indices.
The assembly begins to show a completely different watch. The caseback was changed too. It was polished just as the ones from the vintage pieces. Here’s how the finished product looked just before shipping, with vintage strap to boot. You may remember some these pics.
So at this time the Project had taken almost four months. When I received the watch I was ecstatic, but also thinking….can I do more? So the hunt for a vintage movement began. I was looking for the exact Rolex Cortebert movement used in the original 6152s. I knew that this movement was also used in pocket watches. Upon much research I was beginning to conclude that it would be near impossible to source one. I’ve read that very few of these were out there. And the majority were the 15 jewel type, and not the 17 jewel used by Panerai. But I was lucky to get a tip from a fellow Paneristi. I quickly purchased this vintage pocket watch.
What you’re seeing is a commemorative piece commissioned by the now defunct Department store Eaton from Canada. Eaton would give these watches to its employees after 25 years of service. That’s why you read in the dial “1/4 Century Club”. My watch had belonged to Dave Max Gold for service between 1924 and 1949. I did more research on this Eaton watches and found that the movements in these watches were Rolex Corteberts manufactured in the mid to late thirties. Surely the same as Panerai was using back in those times.
So now I had the right movement, it sure should be easy to just make a transplant…WRONG. Putting the movement in this case was actually the hardest part. I shopped around for skilled watchmakers to work with me. I must have contacted 20 and consistently I got a resounding NO. Way too much work, way too many unknows, would require fabrication……once again, I was extremely discouraged. Just as I was about to put the pocket watch for sale I met a watchmaker who told me of a man. The man was where watchmakers go to when they can’t fix a watch. The Yoda of watchmakers, and luckily enough for me located in Los Angeles.
I had two meetings with “the man”. In the first one he told me all the things that were wrong with this project. The length and with of the canon pinion’s both hour and minute was wrong. The with of the movement in relationhip to the case’s stem’s hole was wrong. The biggest issue is that the existing ring was too big, and surely a new one would hed to be fabricated. Too many things with this wrong with this project. Just like a gorgeous woman with siphilis, can’t touch her. I came back to my second meeting. He says, I see you are passionate about this. I can take it, but I can’t guarantee that it will work. Can’t give you a budget, can’t tell you when it will be done. It may be six months, a year. And you don’t call me, I call you. Now the watch was in his hands.
Seven months later I get the call. And I just can’t believe it. He is explaining all the modifications made. Some of them wre done two or three times over. A see thur case-back was also fabricated. The movement is cleaned and running perfect. He calibrated it and shows me the pulse printout. It’s alive!! And so I’m I. As soon as I got home I put on this wonderful strap that I had been saving for 6 months, yes the one with the authentic GPF buckle.
So there you have it. It is what it is and I’m very happy with it. It tok a long time, and it was very expensive. Absolutely worth it. I should thank many of you who helped me in seeing this thru. Without the Paneristi it just would have not happened. My friend Milan this was as much your idea. Friends around the world, Thorsten, Germano and Joel.
What’s left now….right I have to stop staring at it and start wearing it.
If you came this far, thanks for reading,
* I borrowed some pics at the beginning hope it is ok
A true friend stabs you in the front.