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Posts by John Reardon

Cold-Blooded Love: The Story of a Finely Made Wristwatch Strap

by on October 27th, 2010

Alligator Farm

There is a bad joke that has circulated for years that goes something like this…. “A frequent flier asks an airline check-in attendant for a three day ticket from New York to London to Chicago to Rio to Tokyo and back to New York. The attendant replies that she cannot accommodate his request on such short notice. The frequent flier answers, ‘Funny, you just did it with my bag.’”

In the world of high-end strap making, this type of frequent travel is the norm as many straps start out in the United States, traveling subsequently to Italy, Paris, Geneva, then back to the United States. For alligator straps, the story usually begins in the swamps of Lousiana.

Alligators are farmed for their skins and ‘harvested’ when 19 months old. The best hides are often sent to Italy for selection and tanning where the choice cuts are taken from the belly and top of the tail. This insures that the straps showcase the desirable large square scales that many of us love. Once prepared, the hides are shipped to Paris where master craftsmen stitch the straps to accommodate the specific requests of watch aficionados and designs of watchmaking companies. Finally, the completed straps are returned to Switzerland to be attached to a watch before being sent to a local retailer.

Straps are either hand-stitched (the expensive way), machine stitched (the inexpensive way), or glued (the cheapest way). High-end, hand-stitched straps are recognizable by their oblique or angled stitching pattern and often feature the words ‘Cousu Main’ (hand-stitched) stamped on the underside of the strap. Machine stitching is easily identifiable as the stitching sits in a perfectly straight line and uses a thinner thread.

In the world of high-end straps, one could easily spend $400 plus on a strap. Companies such as Camille Fournet are masters in the world of fine strap-making. But it’s probably worth it. A quality strap adds something to a watch that brings your timepiece to life and makes it more comfortable to wear.

You Won’t See These Tickers Anywhere Else

by on September 30th, 2010

A Pendant Watch fit for royalty. Queen Victoria bought a Patek Philippe similar in style to this watch in 1851. This blue enamel and diamond-set pendant watch is a functional objet that brings a little bit of the 19th century to the 21st century.

Shopping for a vintage or estate watch is much like treasure hunting: it involves a little bit of luck and lot of being at the right place at the right time. When you look inside the Betteridge Estate and Vintage Watch case, we make the job a little bit easier for you by putting all our favorite discoveries in one place for you to explore. You never know what you will find, and the value of buying a vintage or pre-owned watch cannot be matched.

As I travel the world looking for the rarest and most exciting timepieces ever made, my goal is to share the same sense of discovery and excitement with you that I feel when finding a uniqye watch. But be warned: the more you learn about watches, the more addicted you will become to the idea of owning a collection yourself! Just take a look at the collectors hovering around our vintage and estate watch case the next time you are in the Greenwich store, and you will understand… When you look inside this wall case, you will be treated to a revolving museum of timepieces ranging from the 1850s to watches made in the 21st century. I emphasize ‘revolving’ because many pieces only sit in the case for a few hours before finding a new home!

Real Men Wear Rose: Patek Philippe Ref. 1579

by on September 30th, 2010

Patek Philippe Ref. 1579

Patek Philippe Ref. 1579, Circa 1946

This Patek Philippe Ref. 1579 was made in 1946 and features a rare rose gold dial in a rose gold case. At 64 years old, this watch is not only one of the best looking chronographs ever made, it is a mechanical work of art that keeps time as well as any modern mechanical wristwatch!

Mechanical Art

by on September 30th, 2010

Shark-like Perfection: Some watches are instant classics the day they are made. This Patek Philippe Ref. 5100J made in the year 2000 is coveted for its ten day movement, large size, and stylistic case shape inspired by the manta ray.

The benefits of buying vintage or estate watches are not just limited to value and the breadth of the collection. With a vintage watch, you are buying a piece of history, a mechanical work of art that will never be made again. Take a look at the case construction of a vintage watch and you will discover the look and feel of an era past. Much like the signature sweeping tail-fins of a vintage car from the 50s or 60s, there are components of vintage watch case design that will never be recreated in the same way. The dials of vintage watches also tell a story about time past – imagine a day when people needed to actually tell the time, and tell others something about themselves. The result was high-quality and high-fashion.

How to Become a Watch Expert

by on September 30th, 2010

Every part of a Betteridge Vintage and Estate timepiece is carefully inspected by our experts: they have so much fun doing it that they sometimes have to be reminded to remove their loupes from their eyes when going out in public.

Many people are nervous about buying something with which they are not very familiar. With diamonds, people trust that Betteridge will offer the finest expertise and best value in the industry. The same is true for vintage and estate watches. You have an open invitation to come in and talk watches with us. It is our pleasure!

We offer numerous special services for vintage and estate watches, including:

  • Betteridge Certified Pre-Owned Watch Warranty for all Vintage and Estate Watches.
  • Holiday and Personal Shopping: Betteridge can help you discover the right watch for the right occasion with a large inventory and a depth or expertise.
  • Curatorial Consultation: Assessment of your watch collection.
  • Valuation and Trade-In: How much is your timepiece worth?
  • Educational Opportunities: Ongoing seminars in the history of timekeeping, how to buy a vintage watch, and the proper care and maintenance of your watches.

My New Patek Philippe Reference Guide

by on September 30th, 2010

The Patek Philippe in America Reference Guide, by John Reardon

The Patek Philippe in America Reference Guide, by John Reardon

In 2008, my first book ‘Patek Philippe in America’ was published in a limited edition of 1500 copies. The 400 page historical tome explores the historical context of the Patek Philippe’s 19th and 20th century watches. Now, after two years of work, the follow-up book “The Patek Philippe in America Reference Guide” was just released. This book presents the spectrum of Patek Philippe’s production from 1935 to 1995. Together, these two books will make you an instant expert in all things Patek Philippe!

Patek Philippe in the 60’s: It’s Hip to be Square

by on July 31st, 2010

Patek Philippe Ref. 2488

Patek Philippe Ref. 2488, $8,950

During the early 1960s, it was considered very fashionable and even a bit avant-garde to wear a bold, square wristwatch. Stylish men quickly abandoned the traditional, round wristwatch of the 1940’s and 1950’s, inspired by the new futuristic look.

A square watch makes a statement of confidence, style and distinctiveness best represented by the mid-20th century, square-faced Patek Philippe. Iconic watches such as this Ref. 2488, represent enduring value, snappy style and fine timekeeping; and it certainly serves as a great conversation starter at the office or your next cocktail party.

A. Lange & Sohne Pocket Watches: Put a Bit of History in Your Pocket

by on July 2nd, 2010

A. Lange & Sohne 18k Gold Open-Faced Pocket Watch, Circa 1925, $3,500

Many people appreciate the fine German watch making of A. Lange & Sohne, but the early watches made by the company are often forgotten.

When A. Lange & Sohne was founded in 1845, the factory remained devoted solely to the production of pocket watches for most of its early history. Many of these timepieces became prized possessions for many generations, and are only now starting to appear on the vintage market for the first time.

The company was not able to survive the end of WWII and A. Lange & Sohne ceased to exist in 1948. Fortunately, the brand was resurrected in the late 1980s and now continues its tradition of excellence.

Betteridge has a small collection of these rare watches available, including this fine example from 1925. To learn more about pocket watches, and other vintage timepieces, please visit Betteridge and ask for me!

Vintage Watches: Give the Gift of Time

by on May 1st, 2010

Breitling Navitimer & Patek Philippe Ladies' Nautilus

Breitling Navitimer & Patek Philippe Ladies' Nautilus

A vintage watch is a wonderfully appropriate choice for a Mother’s Day or graduation gift. Unique timepieces from the past represent enduring value and timeless design for those we love most.

Highlights from the Betteridge vintage and estate watch collection include Patek Philippe, Cartier, and many other high-end watch brands. From a Breitling Chronomat to an elegant Patek Philippe bracelet watch, each timepiece is poised to become a thoughtful gift that represents the bond between the past, present, and future.