Buying vintage watches without first seeing the movement can be exciting when you are right, and disappointing (and expensive) when you are wrong. But it is often necessary to take a leap of faith when buying fresh-to-market watches – especially when you have uncovered an old and untouched example from someone who is not a professional watch seller.
Without the proper tools or the experience opening stubborn casebacks, it is easy for a seller to damage the watch with a clumsy attempt at opening it. So, its best to have them leave as-is and hope for the best. An insistent seller once ruined the caseback of a virtually New Old Stock watch I was attempting to purchase, when against my advice he proceeded to attempt to open the stubborn caseback by using a pair of scissors instead of a proper caseback tool. He completely ruined the caseback by permanently inscribing deep criss-crossing gouges across it…
A collector may notice a nervous feeling in his stomach in the moments before opening a “mystery watch” for the first time…. indeed, when the Meylan chronograph (pictured below) arrived, I had a nervous feeling, wondering if it contained the Lemania 2310 movement I was hoping for. The Lemania 2310 is the same movement found in Omega Speedmasters from the 1950’s and 60’s, also known as the Omega Cal .321. So, aside from it being a super high-quality and historically significant movement, as a Speedmaster enthusiast – it makes me happy.
The caseback was extra stubborn – once I finally got it to move a little, I used a toothpick to scrape out the dirt, dust, and gunk that was stuck in the caseback groove, so that it didn’t fall into the movement as I removed the caseback.
Once finally opened – the beautiful caliber was exposed, my suspicions were correct… it was a Lemania 2310 in beautiful condition.
After examining the movement for a minute or two with a loupe, my excitement turned to curiosity as I noticed the bridge and inner caseback were signed “O. Maire Watch Co”. The movement was signed with the import code OXM. I had been expecting to see a movement and inner caseback signed “Meylan & Co”.
Further research revealed “O. Maire” was short for “Otto Maire”, which was short for “Manufacture d’Horlogerie Otto Maire SA”. At the time of publishing this post, I had not yet established a conclusive link between Meylan and Otto Maire. Was this watch put together from parts many years ago? Was it manufactured for Meylan by Otto Maire? Did one of O. Maire’s several companies do distribution for Meylan?
All of these scenarios are possibilities. All I can say for sure: under a loupe- everything appears as it should be. Dial/hands shows no signs of sitting in a drawer (light scratches across a dial and hands are a signal that they spent time outside of a watch and perhaps were used to piece a watch together). I also know that I am absolutely in love with this watch. I will continue to investigate the connection between these companies – and when I have an answer, I will update this post.
Until then, I will wear the hell out of this watch.