The time has finally come where I am posting about the same movement twice. This Omega has a Caliber 560 exactly like the 1967 Omega back in early July. Other than the gold plating and the movement the two watches are incredibly different. What drew me to this watch before I even saw the inside was the linen dial. I am a sucker for rare variants when they are in good enough shape. Little things like this (especially in this condition) can add a lot of value to otherwise standard pieces.
Usually this type of textured dial is a magnet for dirt and before long the white linen begins to look more beige. When I saw such a fragile dial in such great shape I knew that the movement would be in equally well preserved. Fortunately, I was right. When I got the back open I was staring at the most well preserved caliber 560 I have ever seen.
The case had no service marks, and as can be seen the movement is in incredibly good shape. Due to this watch never being serviced the oil had dried or migrated and so the rate of the watch was off by 35 seconds per day. After a full disassembly, cleaning, oiling, and regulating this piece from the 60s is beating properly and keeping excellent time.
Back together and on a new band this is a classic, rare, and near mint dress watch that wonderfully showcases the timeless elegance of vintage Omega.
I firmly believe in the old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” but after this last watch I think it needs a new postscript. As it relates to watchmaking it should be “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (unless you are inflicting irreversible damage to the watch in which case either seek a professional or buy the right equipment for the job.)” Case wrenches are good up to a point. Many watches require much more torque to get the job done and that is why amazing watchmaking inventions like the Bergeon 5700z exist. Unfortunately the previous owner of this gorgeous Omega Caliber 565 did not get the memo and instead thought that with enough elbow grease (there are a plethora of special greases for watches but “elbow” is not one of them) this case would finally budge. He/she (given the evident stubbornness I’m going to assume “he”) caused irreparable damage to the case back that could have been avoided had he opted to use more suitable equipment. The problem was that the gasket had melted and re-hardened in the threads. This made it impossible to open by manual force alone. A tight fitting into the nifty 5700z and a simple turn of the wheel and the case was opened. Once inside, the absolute beauty of a barely touched pink gold Omega movement, as it always seems to do, amazed me.
I do not know why these watches sell for so cheap. They are phenomenally well made pieces, reliable, and elegant inside and out. They are also a good segue (or gateway depending on your perspective) into the middle-upper range of collecting. What’s not to love? My only caution is to never ever buy one if you see the words “broken balance” or anything related to it or the hairspring. Although a watch like this can routinely be had in the $250-400 range, a single balance complete will set you back almost $300, wiping out any savings you might have thought you were getting by purchasing a “fixer-upper.”
The Caliber 565 is similar to the earlier 560 except for one nifty change: a quickset date mechanism. In many older watches that contain a date feature, one must manually advance the time so that the date mechanism engages to the proper date. This can be a huge pain when wearing a watch after a prolonged period in the drawer or, in my case, after fixing a watch and seeing that while the actual date is the 5th the display on the watch reads the 7th. With the invention of the clever quickset mechanisms this problem was solved. The 565 works by pulling the crown all the way out to advance the date, drastically decreasing the time necessary to properly set the date or advance it by a day at the end of some months.
Once I got the movement back together and running well I got to the case. I tried my absolute best to remove as much of the superficial damage caused by the stubborn prior owner without removing the iconic Seamaster logo. I did my best, and it looks OK. Had the person given up in their attempts this watch would be mint. This is still a fantastic piece in great shape for its age. I have certainly seen worse, but all it would have taken was an acknowledgment of futility and this watch would have been perfectly preserved. It is now a mint piece from the front that shows an unfortunate past in the back.
The 70s was a formative decade worldwide and people have mixed feelings about parts of it (think Nixon, Disco, Thatcher, etc.) I have no opinion on these matters. I was not alive to pass judgment on the goings on and so I feel that I do not have the right (If I happen to restore a watch from the 80s though, all bets are off.) I do have to say that watch designs during this decade were pretty awesome. Prior to this time watches tended to be daintier in size and look. This decade saw the re-examination of components like the watchcase and the hands and turned them into prominent design elements.
This Bulova Jet Star from 1972 just screams 70s and I love it.
The general aesthetic of this watch is somewhere between “chunky” and space age. Most certainly a divergence from the common round and tank shaped watches from decades before, this odd shape almost looks like it belongs on Batman’s utility belt. Although it doesn’t look like it, the lug-to-lug measurement and the width (excluding the crown) are identical. The brushed finish helps to accentuate the unique design of the hands and dial as well as to soften the look of the metal. It also helps to provide a sharp line and angle contrast making this watch look rather sleek despite its size. All to often on these watches this delicate finish is polished away and the watch looks like its been stuck in a chunky rounded mirror.
Typically watches have simple utilitarian hands. They either glowed or they didn’t and some had little stylistic elements (Breguet hands, etc.) but they were mostly there to perform their function. This Jet Star takes them a step further and adds a touch I have only ever seen on two watches: this one and the famous Bulova Chronograph C. You will notice that arrows have been drawn on the rectangular hands. As simple as this is it adds an eye-catching feature to an otherwise typical watch of the time.
This piece has an automatic Bulova 11BSACB or an AS 2066 movement which like most Bulova and AS movements is well built and easily withstands the test of time. It has a quickset date and day function, which is a bit of a pain to reassemble, but on the wrist it’s a fantastically practical mechanism.
The color scheme of this watch is definitively patriotic, so whether or not you think America was great during the 70s, this watch has been and will be around to wear in a decade more appropriate for American Pride.