Bienne Gems, Episode 1: Omega, Bulova and TAG Pre-Owned Finds

Bienne Gems is a new series on this blog, starting today. The aim is to share some neat findings I stumble upon across the city’s various vintage and second hand watch shops. As you can imagine, with so many people working in the industry, there’s a lot to offer on the market here, often with hard-to-beat prices. Because most local shops don’t have online presence, I thought it could help both them and readers to highlight here good opportunities for buying a Bienne watch in Bienne. (I’ll also include brands that used to be based here, such as today Heuer and Bulova)

Worth noting I have no affiliation whatsoever with the sellers: I’m just surfacing what I consider to be particularly worthwhile (quality + price) from my personal, subjective preferences. If you’re interested, please contact the seller directly. If you live abroad, some may be able to ship it to you. Each watch I have inspected personally, and the pictures are mine. However, not being a watchmaker or watch sales professional, all I can offer is my personal best effort, and I can’t take responsibility for the actual product or purchase.

There are about 5 or 6 shops that I will typically pick from, based on my experience watch shopping in Bienne. For today’s selection, I visited 5 of them, and selected the 4 watches below from 2 different sellers. There are of course many other great watches to buy in Bienne, but, for various reasons explained below, I found those to stand out.

Omega Constellation Marine Chronometer

The basics:

  • Reference: ST 398.0832
  • Movement: Caliber 1516 Megaquartz 2.4 Mhz
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Year: est. 1976
  • Comes with: No box, no papers – 6 month warranty on the mechanical parts (not electronics)
  • Condition: Case clearly early worn / used; part of the Omega logo under the dial is worn off. The dial, tritium lumed and hands are in immaculate condition.
  • All parts appear to be original.
  • 14 links on the bracelet, should easily fit up to 7 inch wrists – the seller said he can include extra links to fit the size of the buyer if needed
  • Seller: Dario Ratti
  • Price: 1,500 CHF

Why I picked it: I’m a huge fan of this watch, one of the best quartz watches of its era, with its polarizing but to me very appealing design, and rich history. What made me want to include this one specifically is the price, which I find pretty great. Sure, the watch is in truly used condition, but not excessively so. For about half the amount asked on most Chrono24 offers, I’m actually quite tempted myself!

Bulova Ladies Silver Manual Wind

The basics:

  • Reference: unknown (tips welcome!)
  • Movement: Manual wind
  • Material: Silver (gold color)
  • Year: unkwnown
  • Comes with: No box, no papers – 6 month warranty
  • Condition: Very good
  • Seller: Dario Ratti
  • Price: 450 CHF

Why I picked it: The watch has a lot of the benefits of a “jewellery” watch, with its unique bracelet, but it’s also a “real watch”, with a manual wind movement. The case is not too small, as can often happen on such models. Sure, there’s some Cartier vibes to the design, but it also has a very distinct personality and in no way can be considered a homage to a specific reference. Finally, while it’s not gold, I like that it’s silver. The watch has a really good heft to it and is in very good condition.

TAG Heuer Alter Ego

The basics:

  • Reference: WP1312
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Material: Stainless steel, mother of pearl dial
  • Year: Early 2000s
  • Comes with: No box, no papers – 3 month warranty
  • Condition: Good, some scratches but overall wearable without need for a polish
  • Seller: Cash Converters Bienne
  • Price: 199 CHF

Why I picked it: The bracelet is amazing. Extremely well built, and in great condition. A lot of watches in similar styles have become quickly outdated. This one, with its bold shape and MOP dial, has a neat, retro-futuristic vibe that I think can work for a lot of women. I don’t feel a polish is necessary, although it probably wouldn’t hurt. Either way, for 199 CHF, you get a TAG Heuer with a bracelet that to me is worth more than that alone.

Omega Speedmaster 105.002 “Blue Bezel”

The basics:

  • Reference: 105.002
  • Movement: Caliber 321
  • Material: Stainless steel, radium lumes
  • Year: 1964
  • Comes with: Extract from the Archives (delivered to US market)
  • Condition: Very good. Original dial, hands and bezel. All internals also appear to be original.
  • Seller: Dario Ratti
  • Price: 29,500 CHF

Why I picked it: I actually hesitated. Of course, it’s a fantastic watch. But I personally don’t have the deep expertise in vintage Speedmasters to know how exactly I feel about the steep pricepoint. What made me decide to showcase it is two things. First, I really trust Dario. He knows both the market for such pieces, and has the skills to check every element in the watch. Second, the watch speaks for itself. The bezel-turned-blue is just perfect. The lumes are immaculate. It’s a serious collector piece sold by someone I would feel comfortable buying it from.

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