Well, I've gone and done it again. I stumbled across a sweet little vintage watch and bought it even though I knew absolutely nothing about it. This time it was something called a Majestime, model unknown. According to the seller, it is from the late 1960s. It is in good enough condition to wear without embarrassment, but sufficiently beat up to knock around without worry. I paid very little for it, which is likely all it is worth, and I am showing it here in less of a review and more of a "Hey, look at this thing!" But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story.
There is a scene in the movie Tin Men where Danny Divito encounters Richard Dreyfuss, whom he mistakenly believes is robbing his house. Divito berates Dreyfuss, asking why he would bother to steal from a working class guy like himself. After all, "it 'ain't like I don't know which watch to put on, I got so many." It's a great scene, and I always liked that line, but I think about it fairly often now as I look into my watch drawers and ponder which watch to put on, because I've got so many. Of course, I don't have them because I'm rich; it's just that they are mostly really cheap. Still, I must recognize the absurdity of it.
It got even sillier this past week when the Instagram watch nerd community lit up with the hashtag #5daysSameWatchChallenge. Yes, we were actually daring each other to wear the same watch five days in a row. Just one! For almost a whole week! Which of our watches could serve for so long? For someone like me who usually wears two watches a day (one for the office, one for home), it was a real conundrum. Talk about your First World problems. Eventually, it was my turn, and just as I was wringing my hands over this dilemma, the mailman arrived with a brand new acquisition to grace my wrist.
As far as I can tell, Majestime made dive watches in the 60s and 70s. This one is a dual crown, barrel case diver with an internal timing bezel. The case is plated base metal with a stainless steel back and measures 37mm wide and 45.6mm long, arcing and tapering to 20mm lugs. The sides are shiny and beveled, creating two nearly congruent surfaces. The broad upper surface has a radial texture that highlights the curvature of the case. Finally, a thick, flat acrylic crystal towers a full 3mm above the case. It is a dramatic design. I only wish it were stainless steel as that would have weathered the years without the significant pitting and flaking now afflicting the back, sides, and crowns.
The dial is marked with three triangular markers and a quadrilateral date window at 3 o'clock. The triangles and their accompanying baton markers are applied, polished, and filled with a green luminous paint. The hour and minute hands are the familiar arrow and baton and are similarly treated. The paint will still fluoresce under UV light but has long since lost its glow. A thick, sky blue second hand lends an unexpected pop of a rather uncommon color. While it is all perfectly legible, it is a small dial, only about 23mm inside the silver internal bezel (which incidentally, still rotates smoothly).
The movement is a 17 jewel, hand wound unit, most likely a French made Parrenin X170. Despite its age, it is keeping good time, losing less than one minute a day. The date wheel alternates red and black, which is a fun touch, but it sadly lacks a quick set function.
While the watch has all the styling cues of a diver, neither crown screws down, and there is nothing to indicate its water resistance except the scuba diver illustration on the case back, who appears to be swimming with an upside-down fish. Given its age, this is a moot point. However seaworthy it may have been back in the day, it most certainly is no longer. Like all of my retired dive watches, it now wears a leather strap. In this case, a tapered Horween Chromexel with minimal stitching from Vieux Halloo.
So how did it fare over my five-day ordeal? Quite well, thank you. The Majestime handled the transition from home to office without complaint. Fortunately, I did not need to pair it with a suit, but it seemed quite at home with a tweed sports coat and tie. It was actually kind of liberating to relinquish the ritual of choosing the perfect watch for each outfit and occasion - but I don't think I'll do again anytime soon. By day five, I was itching for something new.
What is a vintage Majestime diver worth? Beats me. My Internet search turned up another one just like it but in excellent condition for $200. I paid $75 for my somewhat scruffy watch, which seems fair. I sincerely doubt I will be able to retire on this one, but that's not why I bought it. I just like its unconventional looks, uncommon mechanical movement, and undeniable charm. The price didn't hurt either.
If you have any information about the manufacturer or this model, I'd love to hear from you.