In a vintage watch shop, you might be surprised by a lot of the words you'll see written on the dial of familiar-looking watches. You might see a Rolex Oyster Perpetual with Tiffany & Co. branding on it, a Rolex Datejust with Cartier branding on it, or, um, a Rolex Air King with Domino's Pizza branding on it.
But mostly you'll see a slew of names of watch companies that existed briefly, morphed into other brands, and evolved as executives attempted to appeal to new regions and new clientele. Just as the past two decades has seen the resurrection of some dormant watch companies, previous eras saw a lot of quick changes in ownership, labeling, and marketing in the luxury timekeeping world.
Today's Monday Morning Find is one of those attempts to apply appealing branding to a long-lived watch retailer. It was made by the West End Watch Co., which has been making timepieces in Switzerland since 1886.
The West End Watch Co. was itself the product of smart branding—company brass hoped that by using the name of a trendy London neighborhood, they could appeal to a new Indian market. It found success there (and elsewhere) with the first waterproof pocketwatch.
This particular later watch was branded "Harvard," another name that the company hoped would have positive associations in Asia. It was assembled by the Berna Watch Company in Switzerland, using a Valjoux 71 manual chronograph movement. (That elegant movement can also be found in Heuer watches from the era, and pieces made by adventure outfitters Abercrombie & Fitch.) The shop selling the watch today, Analog Shift, estimates it was produced in the mid-1950s.
The watch is in great shape, with few marks on the case and a pristine silver dial . The hands are made of blued steel and the diameter is 36.5 mm. The caseback is completely blank, which makes it the perfect opportunity for engraving. Surely you know someone who is graduating this spring from a school in Cambridge, Mass., who would love a rare and unique gift like this? It's the perfect way to tell people where you went to college, without having to say it out loud.
The watch is available on AnalogShift.com for $3,900.